Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Many Field Guides Do You Own?

I began birding when I pulled an old copy of Peterson's off a shelf at a used bookstore in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I flipped through the book and noticed that someone (whom I later deduced to be an old woman in Florida) had written the date and location of each sighting next to the bird's picture in the book.  "What a cool idea!"  I thought.  I bought the book, crossed off that old woman's chickenscratches and began watching the skies. 

Just a few years later, my collection of field guides has grown by leaps and bounds.  I purchase new ones every year to keep year lists in, and I try to obtain as many exotic ones as possible.  My bookshelf currently includes:

1 copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds  (This is the book I keep my life list in.  I mean, it's just the best.  Best pictures, most detail.)  

2 copies of The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (Both given as gifts before I moved to Colorado)

2 copies of National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Where I kept my 2007 and my current 2008 year list.  I like the NG because it has a lot more rarities than Peterson or Sibley.  However, it lacks Sibley's detail.)

3 copies of Peterson's A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America (My original copy is gone.  I kept my 2004, 2005 and 2006 year lists in this guide.  I like it, but some of the art is dark or tough to see.  I haven't looked much at the new, large edition.

1 copy of A Field Guide to the Birds of East and Central Africa (JG Williams, 1964 ed.) (old, worn copy given to me by Uncle Mike)

1 copy of The Book of Indian Birds (Salim Ali, 1979 ed.) (Another cool old guide given by Uncle Mike)

1 copy of Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region (1996) (my only guide using photos.  Not a huge fan)

1 copy of Birds of Ecuador (Awesome book.  I bought it before my trip to Ecuador's west coast [which is probably the least birdy part of the whole country...].  I had an incredible time leafing through this book and scrambling to identify the birds I would see.)

1 copy of Peterson's Gulls of the Americas (My most recent purchase.  I really love the idea of a Gulls guide, but I have to say I'm a little disappointed in this book.  A lot of the photos are very old, there is no index at the beginning, the birds aren't separated clearly, and the inclusion of South American gulls is confusing.  I understand that it's not meant for use in the field, but it's still tough to use at home.  It's OK, but there is a lot of room for improvement in a Gulls guide.)

1 copy of The Shorebird Guide  (This is what the Peterson Gulls guide should be.  The Shorebird Guide is incredible: beautiful, easy to use, lots of rarities.)

1 copy of National Geographic's Water, Prey and Game Birds of North America and Song and Garden Birds of North America (1964) (A box set of two companion volumes given to me by my grandfather.  At the back of both books are birdsong recordings which can be played on a record player!)

Those are all the bird guides I've acquired so far.  I'm looking forward to being an old man with an entire bookcase dedicated to different bird guides from around the world and from different eras.  

How many do YOU have?


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