Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Last Field Guides

Hey, there! We are finally coming to the end of my collection of field guides. I hope that you have enjoyed this series. If you decide that you want a field guide of your own, any of these books would be a marvelous choice. Including this next one, the Peterson Field Guide of Western Birds.

Let's see what it looks like on the inside, shall we? (Also, if you haven't noticed yet, you can click on the pictures to get a larger view.)

Here we are! This book may actually be my new favorite. The illustrations are beautiful. Studying these gorgeous birds and learning their field marks is a joy. Peterson helpfully includes arrows to point out the most visible field marks. You can see some of those arrows on this phalarope page (phalaropes being slim, long-legged, water birds).

"I just saw a phalarope, and it's winter-time," you might say. "How am I supposed to tell apart these very similar birds?" Okay, no one talks like that, but you catch my drift. Look at the foreheads, the arrows say: and you do, and you notice, hey, the black mark on the Red-necked Phalarope's head goes much farther down than the black mark on the Red Phalarope. Congratulations, you can now tell apart two winter Phalaropes.

Unfortunately, this field guide keeps all of its range maps at the back of the book. In order to see where, exactly, a bird might be found, you have to look in that paragraph of information and see what page the range map is on, then flip all the way back and find it. It's not that much work, but I'm used to having the range map right there on the same page, so I find it a bit annoying.

I have two Fun Phalarope Facts for you! Phalaropes are special because the females get more gussied up for breeding season than the males do. Really, the whole male and female dynamic is switched. The females seduce the males, lay their eggs, and then migrate south, leaving the males to raise the chicks by themselves. Also, in order to stir up food from the bottom of a body of water, Phalaropes swim in (cute) little circles. The vortex sweeps insects and crustaceans up to the surface, where it is easy for the birds to catch them.

Now, to finish off this discussion of field guides, I have this.

May I introduce the Guia de aves, a Spanish field guide of European birds. It is exactly as awesome as it sounds.

I received it as a gift from a family friend that lives in Spain. I unfortunately cannot understand all of the terminology, but I can admire the pictures. It turns out that Phalaropes can be found in both North America and Europe. That's why you can see, on this page, the very same phalaropes that I was just telling you about. Look! The Red Phalarope = the Falaropo Picogrueso, the Red-necked Phalarope = the Falaropo Picofino, and the Wilson's Phalarope = Falaropo Tricolor. Good stuff.

There we are! Good luck finding a field guide. Try one, try a couple, see which you like best. It's all a matter of opinion, really. But, I hope you have learned a thing or two from this series. Adios!

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