Five Books for Hawk Migration Season

From hawks, to falcons, to our illustrious bald eagle, raptors are the kings of the sky, so it seems only right to pay homage to them during this fall migration season. Whether you’re a birdwatching pro or new to the hobby, we’ve picked out five guides that can help you identify various raptors across America and learn more about birds as a whole.

Whether soaring or perched, diurnal birds of prey often present challenging identification problems for the bird enthusiast. Variable plumage, color morphs, and unique individual characteristics are just some of the factors bird watchers must consider when identifying the different species. In A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors, two of the world’s top experts on raptors provide an essential guide to the variations in the species, allowing for easier recognition of key identification points. All the distinguishing marks described have been exhaustively tested in a wide range of field conditions by the authors as well as the colleagues and students who have learned from them.
Raptors are among the most challenging birds to identify in the field due to their bewildering variability of plumage, flight silhouettes, and behavior. Raptors of Mexico and Central America is the first illustrated guide to the region’s 69 species of raptors, including vagrants. It features 32 stunning color plates and 213 color photos, and a distribution map for each regularly occurring species. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, age-related plumages, status and distribution, subspecies, molt, habitats, behaviors, potential confusion species, and more.
Comprehensive and authoritative, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors covers all thirty-four of North America’s diurnal raptor species (all species except owls). Each species is featured in stunning color plates that show males and females, in a full spectrum of ages and color variants, depicted near and far, in flight and at rest, and from multiple angles, all caught in their typical habitats. There are also comparative, multispecies scenes and mystery photographs that allow readers to test their identification skills, along with answers and full explanations in the back of the book. In addition, the book features an introduction, and thirty-four color maps accompany the plates.
The ultimate must-have guide for identifying migrant raptors, Hawks at a Distance is the first volume to focus on distant raptors as they are truly seen in the field. Jerry Liguori, a leading expert on North American raptors, factors in new information and approaches for identifying twenty-nine species of raptor in various lighting situations and settings. The field guide’s nineteen full-color portraits, 558 color photos, and 896 black-and-white images portray shapes and plumages for each species from all angles. Useful flight identification criteria are provided and the accompanying text discusses all aspects of in-flight hawk identification, including flight style and behavior. Concentrating on features that are genuinely observable at a distance, this concise and practical field guide is ideal for any aspiring or experienced hawk enthusiast.
Hawks from Every Angle takes hawk identification to new heights. It offers a fresh approach that literally looks at the birds from every angle, compares and contrasts deceptively similar species, and provides the pictures (and words) needed for identification in the field. Jerry Liguori pinpoints innovative, field-tested identification traits for each species from the various angles that they are seen. Featuring 339 striking color photos on 68 color plates and 32 black & white photos, this is a unique in presenting a host of meticulously crafted pictures for each of the 19 species it covers in detail–the species most common to migration sites throughout the United States and Canada.

You can also check out this sample raptor ID guide from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors for a taste of what you’ll find in these publications.

Spring: The Season of Birds

As the countdown to the thaw of spring begins, over 200 species of birds are gearing up for their annual, epic journey. Some will clock 10,000 miles on their way back to the United States and Canada from the balmy climates of regions further south. Although birds are on the move nearly every day, this period of Neotropical migration is the most predictable time for movement, and volunteer birders across the country will take to the outdoors to count the traveling birds. In preparation for the return of these raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds, Princeton University Press brings you four essential birding guides.

crossley guides In both The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds and The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, acclaimed photographer and birder Richard Crossley has introduced a new way to not only look at birds, but to truly see them. With a highly visual approach which emphasizes shape, size, and habitat through carefully designed scenes in which multiple birds of different sexes, ages, and plumages interact with realistic habitats, the birder can better grasp the characteristics of each species. Unlike other guides which provide isolated individual photographs or illustrations, these books feature large, lifelike scenes for each species, in order to bring a more practical approach to bird identification. There are also comparative, multispecies scenes and mystery photographs that allow readers to test their identification skills, along with answers and full explanations in the back of the book. Begin reading the Introduction of The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds and the Introduction of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors now.

warbler guideWith the hope of aiding birders in identifying one of the trickiest species, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle have created The Warbler Guide, in which the two experts offer a comprehensive look at the 56 species of warblers found in the U.S. and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you distinguish songs and calls.  As Robert Mortensen of Birding is Fun puts it, “The Warbler Bible has come forth! This is easily the most comprehensive and fantastic warbler specific guide covering North American Warblers. I am amazed and impressed with each of its features. . . . [A] must-have book.” 

nests, eggs, etcIn the tide of the bird’s natural mating cycle, there’s no book more relevant than Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds, Second Edition by Paul J. Baicich & J.O. Harrison. This guide provides a thorough, species-by-species look at the breeding biology of some 670 species of birds in North America. With complete basic information on the breeding cycle of each species, from nest habitat to incubation to nestling period, this book covers perhaps the most fascinating aspects of North American bird life, their reproduction and the care of their young, which are essential elements in the survival of any species.

There’s no better time to gain an understanding of your region’s birds than during this critical spring migration period.  Check out any and all of these informative books today!