One of the most fun things about going out into nature is the plethora of field guides and in-depth informational books available on just about any topic. In days gone by I used to read novels and non-fiction, but today I utilize my time by reading field guides – and I love them!
In addition, there are many apps available online for download onto mobile devices which are a tremendous help out in the field.
Today I will share some of my favorites, some of which I own, and some on my wish list. Due to the amount of topics field guides cover, the focus for this post will be on birds and birding.
The first bird field guide I ever received was A Guide to Field Identification BIRDS of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Bruun, and Herbert S. Zim, published by Golden Press (New York) My copy is dated – copyright 1986 – and falling apart. I’ve used it successfully over the years to identify various species of birds, and to learn more about their role in the ecosystem.
Two other excellent field guides are Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, by Lee Peterson and Roger Peterson, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press and The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley, published by Crown Publishing Group. Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996) played an instrumental role in the way field guides look today. His clear, consise illustrations and informative descriptions of birds made that information accessible to ordinary people and did not require specialized scientific training. Roger Tory Peterson's legacy lives on not only in the miriad of field guides he wrote and inspired, but in the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, New York.
continent. The cards are beautiful, as one would expect from a Sibley product, and feature information on habitat, description, voice, and size of bird. When I want to exercise my brain but not get too deep into learnin’, I enjoy going through the flash cards a few at a time to try to keep my memory fresh about bird facts.
Whew! This is a long blog, and I have not even begun to scratch the surface. There are field guides for every type of birding imaginable,
from warblers to finches, and from North America to South America and elsewhere around the globe.
I wonder what John James Audubon would think about birding today…. And the revolution he started with his first paintings of Birds of America in 1827. I don't know for sure, but I bet he'd be happy to know it is such a popular activity for people of all ages!