Monday, March 21, 2011

Book review: Hawks at a Distance

I received a preview copy of Jerry Liguori's Hawks at a Distance from Princeton University Press and like it.

I have other identification guides specific for hawks: Peterson's Hawks of North America, Wheeler and Clark's A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors and Dunne, Sibley and Clark's Hawks in Flight. All are good resources and I use them regularly. So why another?

Hawks at a Distance focuses on hawks as we often see them: in the air and far away. There are numerous pictures for each species. One aspect I really like is a discussion in each species of hints to tell one species from another, not just in terms of their appearance, but in how they move. For example, in the species discussion for the sharp-shinned hawk, Ligouri remarks, "Sharp-shinned Hawks are small, bouyant and unsteady....The wing beats of Sharp-shinned Hawks are very quick and lack power..." It's details like this that can help differentiate between species.

There are lots of photos. Most are small, without fine detail, which is how we see the birds in the field. But similar species are shown side by side with text explaining the details to look for to tell one species from another similar species. The series of photos and explanations of the sharp-shinned versus the Cooper's this an example.

Another thing I liked was the Shapes section at the back of the book, showing several low contrast photos for each type of hawk at a variety of aspects.

Overall, this book has a lot to offer hawk watchers of all levels of experience.

The paperback version is $19.95 from Princeton University Press. I found it for $11.86 on Amazon. Remember, you can support Wild Bird Rescue by ordering from Amazon through their web site.

Good birding!

No comments: