Review of A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors

Raptors have always impressed us. No other family of birds combines so well fabulous flight with aggressive hunting skills. They are bold and obvious birds to find; some not so obvious to identify.

A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors provides a visually intense resource for mastering the wide variety of the 43 diurnal raptors that reside or have been found as vagrants in North America. [Owls are not covered.] This includes vultures, kites, accipiters, buteos, eagles, and falcons. The Osprey is lumped with the vultures while Crested Caracara can be found in the “eagles” section.

Written by Brian K. Wheeler and William S. Clark, two experts on raptors, the text provides extensive coverage and comparisons on what to look for when identifying raptors-perched or in flight. Of course, the text is overshadowed by the 377 color photographs, most of which were taken by Wheeler or Clark. For many species, the photos depict:

  • birds in flight
  • perched birds
  • juveniles
  • male and female birds
  • subadults
  • light and dark phases

Some of the more challenging raptors and also those with numerous subspecies are given a nearly overwhelming representation. There are 46 Red-tailed Hawk photos and 24 shots of Swainson’s Hawks.

A special section is reserved for 14 of the biggest challenges among raptor identification such as:

  • Sharp-shinned vs Cooper’s Hawk
  • Golden Eagle vs Non-Adult Bald Eagle
  • Perched Dark-morph Buteos
  • and more!

We love these “family-focused” field guides because it provides an invaluable resource without being encyclopedic or too scientific. A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors is a definite must for every birder’s bookcase.

Rating: 10 of 10 feathers

Princeton University Press
May 2003

2 thoughts on “Review of A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors

  1. Sounds like a great resource to have. The sequel of the one they authored for the Peterson series. Thanks for bringing it to our attention and I look forward to using it.

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