CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010
Birds of Canada, the latest edition to the wonderful Lone Pine series of regional guides to North American birds, covers the whole of Canada with detailed information about the 451 species that are seen regularly. It is well laid out with excellent use of colour coding and visual and well as textual indexes, so that there is a variety of ways to access the information quickly, a useful trait in a field guide. But the great advantage of this book over other field guides is that it includes both a photograph and one-to-four illustrations of each bird. Another strength of the book is the lengthy introduction. It gives a summary of the habitats across Canada, suggested viewing sites in each province and territory, information about Canadian migration routes, and general information about bird watching and conservation. As the book is intended for the novice or casual observer rather than an experienced birder, common terms are used rather than jargon (e.g. “eyebrows” – not “supercilium”), and a conversational tone is employed.
The bird species are grouped in the usual scientific order, and each is given a separate page. Half the page is devoted to describing the bird’s behaviour and distinguishing characteristics in a manner that makes the bird come alive and memorable. This section includes full colour illustrations of the bird with separate pictures for male and female where they differ significantly, and often there are additional illustrations showing the bird in flight or in different plumage. Unlike many field guides, there is no attempt to illustrate all the plumages for each bird by age, season, gender, etc. but to present the forms most commonly seen. The middle quarter of each page is sub-divided into seven categories of ID (physical description); Size (in metric); Habitat (when breeding or migrating); Nesting habits; Feeding behaviour; Voice (songs & call); and Similar Species (comparisons given with subtle differences noted and page number provided). The bottom quarter of each page contains a photograph and a map showing its distribution in Canada, and the latter is coloured to show seasonal and migrating ranges.
Alison Mews, a recently retired librarian, resides in St. John's, NL.
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