It’s no secret that the Birdfreak Team lacks when it comes to shorebird identification. Much of this is due to our geographic location in the somewhat “shorebird free” Midwest. Granted, migration brings many different kinds of shorebirds through our area, but we lack the in-your-face, overloaded with shorebirds hotspot found more commonly on the coasts.
Thus, our shorebird deficiency means we need every tool available to identify those shorebirds that do venture our way. We have an amazing spotting scope and now with Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia (due out in September 2009), we may just get that edge over true shorebird aficionados.
Shorebirds has a lot to offer but the initial draw has to be the photography. With over 850 full color shots, this guide will make your jaw drop. One hundred and thirty-four (yes 134!!) species are covered, providing an overwhelming collection of practically every possible species in the northern hemisphere.
Of course, no field guide is worth its weight if it doesn’t have the text to back it up. Shorebirds has a perfect introductory section for novices like us and plenty to learn for those hardcore shorebirders. The section on behavior is worth reading a few times over.
The birds are grouped by type: ringed plovers, “tundra” or Pluvialis plovers, dowitchers, etc. This helps to narrow down identification quests by offering a good starting point. Once a grouping is determined, each species is given an extensive treatment of text mixed with numerous photos of various plumages, plus flight shots. Range maps are included with the species profile.
Perhaps the only drawback is that a book like this may not be as “field-ready” as other guides. That is, using it with success in the field may be a bit tricky. It is hefty and fairly wide with over 440 pages. But, since most shorebirding is done in fairly open areas with a lot of standing and scoping, the guide can and should be included in a backpack.
We took Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia into the field at Horicon Marsh to give it a proper test. The guide worked well as we think we positively identified a Least Sandpiper. The organization of the book, extensive descriptions, and wonderful photos made the process much easier than normal. Feel free to see if you think our ID was correct.