I’ve recently reviewed bird or nature books for some fairly exotic places (see this for all the reviews) including the Antarctic and the West Indies. Now, I have a book on the birds of one of the most exotic places ever: New Jersey!
OK, if you are from New York like I am, you know that was a joke. In all seriousness, New Jersey is an excellent place to go to see wildlife and I’m not talking about Atlantic City.
New Jersey has some of the largest swamps and marshes around, an extensive shoreline, and extensive pine barrens. Why, there are even mountains. The state, small and flattish and stuck between the City that Never Sleeps and the old Middle Colonies is more diverse of habitat than most people realize, and The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution by William Boyle recognizes, describes, reflects, and exploits this.
The Birds of New Jersey is organized differently than many other field guides. The 300+ page book has very few birds on a page (may be an average of 1.5). There is no left vs. right side, but rather, a running single column layout with a header, text, and a picture. Range maps in the margins complement the descriptions. The illustrations of the birds are photographs, and the photographs often have paragraph-long captions with important details.
This layout is visually nicer than you’ll see in any other bird book. It works as a field guide, so getting this book for that function should not worry you. But the text is also more informative and detailed than the average bird book.
One of the nicest tings about this book is the detail in the range maps. Well, technically they are not “range maps” because they cover a very small area in relation to actual bird ranges. They are state maps giving very detailed geographical distribution (against the background of the above mentioned habitat diversity) including little red dots for occasional sightings. I want a book that does this for Minnesota (well, we have something like this but not this pretty).
The book is on the larger end for field guide size, is printed on good quality paper, and is apparently available on the Kindle. I’d love to see a copy of this on the Kindle because I’m rather suspicious that this would work well. If I lived in New Jersey, tough, I’d get a Kindle copy so that I’d have a searchable version of the text.