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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

HAWKS at a Distance

HAWKS at a Distance
by Jerry Liguori

Circumstances while traveling, and inclement weather, have kept me from actively birding these past few months.  Literally, spring migrants came to me this year, as I had the good fortune to spend a few weeks in a delightful log cabin at the forest’s edge in central Maine.  It was only a matter of stepping out the front door, listening, and then searching amidst the branches of the trees.


Spring, however, did not follow me across the border and onto the shores of eastern Cape Breton, where the cold, wet, and windy days lend themselves, instead, to nestling in front of a warming fire for some quiet reading time.


Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant RaptorsOn the very top of my ‘must read’ pile has been Jerry Liguori’s new book, HAWKS at a Distance, published by Princeton University Press.  Although I not have yet needed to reference this book, as the few raptors I have had the pleasure of observing have been easily identifiable, I am delighted with what I have found between the covers.  Perhaps they were easy because I’ve been reading this book!


Obviously, considerable forethought took place at the conception of the idea for this book, because it is easy to read and to understand, making it a viable resource for the beginner and the experienced birder alike.  This endears the book to me even more, reflecting Jerry’s attitude that anything is possible, even working through and overcoming the difficulties that accompany hawk identification.   I will be an apt pupil, because they almost all look the same to me at a distance!

Jerry uses key identification traits in bold print and keeps the text short, sweet, and to the point, accompanying the well-thought out and expertly displayed images, of which there are many.  In his own words, the purpose of this format is “so that it is easy to remember and so that the book is uncluttered.”


As he points out in his introduction,  people can identify friends and family from a distance because they are so familiar with them - the way they walk or stand or gesture when speaking. His intention is to provide the reader with that same sense of familiarity that is required to identify these magnificent birds from afar, which is where we usually see them.  Consequently, this book is more than a field guide, more than a reference book, and one that should be read and reviewed repeatedly, making it a valuable resource to be included on every birder’s bookshelf.  I will treasure my copy for many years to come.


I have developed the habit of using sticky notes to add key information to the pages of the field guides I carry along with me, and while reading HAWKS at a Distance, I have added many more notes to my birding field guide to help me tease out the difficulties in identifying hawks 'on the spot' until my memory kicks in and hawk identification becomes second nature.   It’s tough getting old!

15 comments:

texwisgirl said...

:)

your reference to cool weather made me jealous. here in texas we are sweltering and pushing 100 most days. enjoy your fireside days!

Simone de Klerk said...

Thank you for the review, Karen!
From what I have read about the book it is only for hawks found in the US. Otherwise this would be a perfect book for my hubby.
I hope you are able to identify many hawks with the knowledge from this book!

swamp4me said...

Thanks for the review. I have a friend whose birthday is coming up and I was looking for a gift idea. This book sounds perfect! Of course, if I order it and look through it, then he may never receive it ;)

Eric Handelman said...

What a great book, I got it a few weeks ago and love the concept. It is very helpful, and really does depict the hawks as you see them in the field like the book says. Your review sums it up well, and was enjoyable to read.

Denise said...

This sounds like such a great book, thanks for the info. Your cabin in Maine sounded like a delightful retreat. I'm always on the look out for such places and have several in a folder that I hope to visit one day.

Azhita said...

Sounds like an awesome book Karen!

Btw, I'm sharing the love, and sending an award your way. Stop by tomorrow morning and pick it up!

Dallas

Carver said...

That sounds like a very interesting book. I also use sticky notes in my bird books.

Arija said...

Although your book does not apply to Australia, thanks for the tip on adding notes as you go.

MyMaracas said...

That sounds like a really useful resource. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

Rambling Woods said...

This is too funny...I got this book recently...our book shelves share a lot in common...

JM said...

A very interesting book for sure.

Kjell T. Evensen said...

I'll check to see if this is available in digital form. Thanks for the review.

eileeninmd said...

Thanks for the review, it sounds like it would be very helpful with the hawk ids.

Bernie Krausse said...

Intriguing book. I will be keeping my eye out for it in the distance and near future. :)

Keep looking into the sky.

Carrie P. said...

I have to agree with you that most birds of prey look very similar to me too. We noticed big stick nests on our vacation and saw a few birds of prey in them too. We were driving down the highway so I couldn't get pictures.