Review of Gulls of the Americas

If you are like us, you hate identifying gulls. Not that gulls aren’t cool and fun to watch, it’s just they are so darned difficult to nail down to species.

Under the Peterson Reference Guides banner, the Peterson Reference Guides: Gulls of the Americas (The Peterson Reference Guide Series) provides an impressive undertaking of a family of birds that are notably difficult to identify. 36 species of gulls that occur in the Americas are covered extensively in this guide. The majority of these (22) breed in North America while 10 can be found in South America and 4 are Old World visitors.

Authors Steven N.G. Howell and Jon Dunn provide an intense amount of text describing every aspect of gull species and photos depicting practically all variations of these gulls. With 40 plus pages of introductory text, it is somewhat difficult not to skip to the plates and dive in to identifying that “odd-looking” gull. However, this section is vital to beginning to understand the intricacies of gull identification.

Nearly 200 pages (40% of the book) encompass detailed species accounts complete with maps, behavior descriptions, and explanations on molt cycles. While all this will help even the most experienced birders, “The proportion of unidentifiable gulls never reaches zero. Once you accept this limitation, gull watching should become easier.”

Gulls of the Americas provides the perfect resource for all of us “gullaphobes”.

Rating: 10 of 10 feathers

Published by: Houghton Mifflin
June 2007
528pp

One thought on “Review of Gulls of the Americas

  1. I respectfully disagree. I generally love Peterson guides, but this book leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very difficult to find a particular species in the book. The pictures are very old. The birds are not divided clearly. The inclusion of South American birds, while interesting, serves mainly as a distraction to the primary audience of the book. I own this book and use it frequently, but in my opinion there is a need for a much better gull guide.

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