How to Be a Better Birder- Book Review

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Lovitch, D. (2012). How to Be a Better Birder. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lovitch is a professional birder who owns and operates Freeport Wild Bird Supply in Maine. He has been involved in avian research and continues to lead birding tours for groups. Lovitch was also a columnist for Birding magazine. In this book, Lovitch combines his knowledge and personal experience into advice for becoming a better birder. If you have no interest in birds or birding, do not read this book. If you have the slightest bit of interest, Lovitch’s enthusiasm and passion will certainly rub off on you.

This book emphasizes and centers around a popular strategy for identifying birds called the “whole-bird approach.” With this technique, you as a birder should not just rely on field markings to identify a bird. You should look at everything, including behavior, weather, habitat, food options, and climate data. Lovitch has organized the chapters to include helpful advice on how to look at and analyze these different areas.

Although Lovitch uses quite a bit of scientific terminology, this book can actually still, and should, be used by beginning birders. You will find every chapter helpful simply because of the sources that he references. As you read through chapter 1, you will be introduced to around 20 sources (i.e. books, field guides, articles, etc.), in which Lovitch also adds his personal “mini-reviews” of each one. I found it helpful to make the note “reference” every time Lovitch wrote about a specific field guide or book. This way, I can go back later and look for a particular source.

This book is an excellent resource for birders. Not only can it be read in a short time, but you will find yourself going back to it time and time again after spending quality time in the field.

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