Greg Laden's Blog

The Birder’s Handbook

I recommend The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. It was written by three serious bird experts and it will serve any bird watcher in North America very well. Here’s how you use it. You go bird watching and later, you look up one or two of the birds you saw, read the entries on them, read the entries cross referenced in those first entries, and otherwise explore around this compendium of information about bird ecology and biology.

The Book

For instance, you spy a Clapper Rail. So you look that up and see the reference to the essay on rails. There, you learn, among other things, that rails are rare on birder’s lists not because they are rare (they are not) but because they are hiding.

Then, the next time you are out with someone birding, and you see a rail, you can impress your friend with this bit of knowledge about rails. How cool is that?

OK, so you see a Gray Kingbird. You look it up. There, you find a reference to an essay on the evolution of bird nesting behavior, which will blow your mind.

And so on and so forth.

This is one of those books that I don’t have in the field back but that I do keep in the other pack (actually, a Duluth Tote Bag) which gets dragged to and from the car, cabin, etc. One of these days Imma build a trailer that hold books and battery chargers.

Anyway, The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds is a must-have.


  1. #1 Paul
    June 1, 2011

    Have it. Use it. Love it.

  2. #2 ppb
    June 1, 2011

    I have it too. It’s a great book.

  3. #3 Pete Moulton
    June 1, 2011

    I’ve owned and used this terrific book for nearly 20 years. Yup–a definite ‘must-have’ for all North American birders.

  4. #4 Rob
    June 5, 2011

    This is a great book!

  5. #5 Doug Alder
    June 8, 2011

    I should get it – hopefully it covers the frozen north (above the 49th) – Just this year for the first time I saw a Lazuli Bunting ( and that was exciting for me – there’s a mating pair feeding on the seeds that the sparrows etc spill from our feeder every day

New comments have been disabled.