Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America

I recently had the opportunity to read one of the newest bird books from Princeton University Press, Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide, by Steve N.G. Howell. 

I've been traveling quite a bit lately (more to follow on that), so didn't get to the book as soon as I would have liked, but I am glad I finally did get to take a look.

Here in north central Texas we don't have the opportunity to see these majestic birds. However, cruising seems to be the rage for vacations, and out at sea is the best opportunity to see these birds.

I loved this book. Petrels, albatrosses and storm-petrels are among the least-known of the world's birds as they live at sea, far from the sight of most people. Additionally, their white, gray and black plumage make them difficult to see against the sky and ocean.  This photographic guide combines detailed species summaries, focusing primarily on distribution and identification, with hundreds of pictures of the birds in various plumages.

I found the Introduction (Field Identification of Tubenoses) to be fascinating. Although focused on identification, this chapter has a lot of interesting information about this family of birds, from taxonomy to conservation to information about the ocean these birds depend upon.

This hefty book is not a "field guide" you can fit in your pocket, but I think I would find a way to get it into my suitcase if I was going on a trip where I would have a chance to see these birds. This in one of the better specialized books I have come across. If you're interested in these birds, this is a good choice. Priced at $45 from Princeton University Press, or $29.70 on Amazon.

Good birding!

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