Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Review: Birds of India (2nd Edition)

I recently received my Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and The Maldives (second edition) in the mail and haven’t been able to get any work done since. For those familiar with the first edition, the authors have put in an exceptional amount of work creating an even better, up to date resource and the most comprehensive field guide for the Indian subcontinent. The 226 plates (72 more than the 1st edition) covers all 1,375 species of residents, migrants and vagrants – and better yet, the range maps and text now mirrors the plates eliminating the hassle of relentlessly flipping through pages. It also includes taxonomical name changes as well as accurate, updated range maps.

As with all field guides, there will always be cons and with this guide there was one that caught my attention. A few of the plates appear to be moderately dark (i.e. shorebirds) – this can either be the artist that covered that section or simply the printers. However, the vast majority of the plates are exceptional and precise.

Plate 82: Parakeets
Plate 124: Jays and Magpies
Without a doubt, this user-friendly guide is a must for anyone heading to the Indian subcontinent or for those who simply want to add another remarkable field guide to their library. My next backpacking trip will hopefully be the Indian subcontinent and the Birds of India will certainly be the first item packed.

Note: this advanced copy of the Birds of India was sent to me by Princeton Press for review. The paperback publishes on March 7, 2012.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Possible Hoary Redpoll

Yesterday, Cleveland birders Paula Lozano and Bob Finkelstein joined me on a quick jaunt into the heart of Toledo in search of finches. Woodlawn Cemetery, our destination, has been hosting White-winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls for most of the winter. To cut to the chase, it didn’t take long before we were watching roughly 70 Common Redpolls and 45 White-winged Crossbills – not bad for a non-irruption year!

As I reported elsewhere, amongst the Common Redpolls was a good candidate for a female Hoary. A shorter, stubbier bill, clean rump and undertail coverts, thin streaking on its flanks and a generally frostier appearance is what caught my attention. I wasn’t able to get the greatest photos that would clinch its identification but would like to hear from others what they think. So far I’ve privately sent these photos to a few other birders and the general consensus is leaning towards Hoary.

Note pale rump and undertail coverts, thin streaking
on flanks and general frostier appearance
Unfortunately, none of my photos showed
the short, stubby bill
Angle showing frostier appearance