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.
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"Why, there are even mountains."
Yes we do have mountains, though most other people would call them large hills.
Kayaking around the New Jersey coast I've seen all manor of different birds. Herons of all types. Egrets. Oystercatchers. Terns diving for fish. I've watched seagulls pull up crabs and systematically dismember them and I've seen crabs fight off gulls and wade back into the water.
Bald eagles have watched me paddle past as red-tailed hawks circle overhead. I've been splashed by osprey as they drag fish out of the river. The ducks never let me get close though.
Sometimes, in the evenings as I paddle back home, the chit-chat of the red-winged blackbirds in the marsh is almost deafening.
There's a reason the World Series of Birding is held in New Jersey ...
Im trying to find out what type of bird has nested in my front yard tree can I send a pic I have very limited knowledge of birds but Ive never saw this type here before and I usually take the time to watch the local birds