FACT: “The largest bird known to have lived: The Giant Moa (Diornis maximus) of New Zealand, a wingless ratite that stood as high as 13 feet with neck extended and weighed over 500 pounds, is the tallest known bird, while the Elephant Bird of Madagascar (Aepyornis titan), which stood a mere 9-10 feet tall but probably weighed over 950 pounds, is the heaviest known.”

The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife
by Christopher W. Leahy
Illustrations by Gordon Morrison

The quintessential A-Z guide, this is a book that anyone interested in birds will want to have close at hand. First published more than twenty years ago, this highly respected reference volume has been fully revised and updated. It captures the fundamental details as well as the immense fascination of North American bird life in a style that is authoritative, yet fresh, witty, and eminently readable.

Both a practical handbook for amateurs and a handy reference for seasoned birders, it provides accounts of the basic elements of birdlife, as well as a wealth of easy-to-access information on such subjects as bird physiology and anatomy, terms and jargon, name definitions and etymology, and ornithological groupings.

Readers will discover everything from the color of a dipper’s eggs (glossy, white, and unmarked) to the number of species of woodpeckers in the world (216). They will also find more than one hundred of the best-known and most colorful colloquial names for birds, alphabetized and briefly defined. Collective nouns relating to birdlife—for example, “an exaltation of larks”—are included in the “Nouns of Assemblage” section. Biographical sketches of persons responsible for describing or naming a significant number of North American species are also included, as well as handsome and accurate illustrations by Gordon Morrison. And for those who want to go beyond reading about their favorite birds and take to the great outdoors, the book offers still more useful information: descriptive entries on a selection of the best-known birdwatching spots of North America.

“A thousand-page A-to-Z guide to all things avian. Leahy clearly loves birds, and this affectionate yet scholarly work offers everything from terse definitions and simple descriptions to thoughtful and authoritative essays. . . . There is much here that will engage every level of birder.”—American Scientist

“This is a reference book for the ages that transcends mere North American use. . . . The entries are informative, easily assimilated, and also written with spirit, humor, and charm as well as authority.”—Henry T. Armistead, Bird Watcher’s Digest

Want to learn more? Be sure to check out PUP’s newest Facebook page—Princeton Birds and Natural History. We’ll be featuring all of our great books, apps, and more on the page, along with some giveaways! There’s one going on right now—2 lucky winners will be selected Monday! Click here for details: