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How to be a Better Birder

Handbook / Manual
Explains the "Whole Bird and More" approach to bird identification
Demonstrates how to use geography, habitats, ecology, and the weather to be a better birder
Shows how to bird at night using radar, collect conservation data, develop patch lists – and more
Offers essential tools for intermediate and advanced birders

By: Derek Lovitch (Author)

192 pages, colour photos, colour & b/w illustrations, b/w maps

Princeton University Press

Paperback | Apr 2012 | #196123 | ISBN-13: 9780691144481
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £13.95 $18/€16 approx

About this book

This unique illustrated handbook provides all the essential tools you need to become a better birder. Here Derek Lovitch offers a more effective way to go about identification – he calls it the "Whole Bird and More" approach – that will enable you to identify more birds, more quickly, more of the time. He demonstrates how to use geography and an understanding of habitats, ecology, and even the weather to enrich your birding experience and help you find something out of the ordinary. Lovitch shows how to track nocturnal migrants using radar, collect data for bird conservation, discover exciting rarities, develop patch lists – and much more.

This is the ideal resource for intermediate and advanced birders. Whether you want to build a bigger list or simply learn more about birds, How to Be a Better Birder will take your birding skills to the next level.

"[...} How to Be a Better Birder is an easy-to-read, even fun, exploration of the subject that picks up where resources targeted at beginners leave off. Any birder, regardless of skill level, can learn something from this book, but I think that intermediate and more advanced birders will get the most out of it."
- Grant McCreary (21-05-2012), read the full review at The Birder's Library

"Birders at any experience level will find something of interest in this slender volume."
– Penny Miller, A Charm of Finches blog

"Derek Lovitch has written a book which is useful for birders at any level of proficiency from the beginner to the obsessive lister."
– Dorothy Borders, Nature of Things blog

"Birdwatchers bent on self-improvement will want to turn to Derek Lovitch's How to Be a Better Birder [...] Writing in the accessible, breezy prose of a blog, Lovitch provides a rich compendium of tools, techniques, and resources useful to anyone who's mastered elementary bird watching. Among the tools discussed are botany, maps, meteorology, and NEXRAD; a list of print and web resources for further study is included in each discussion. The amount of information packed into this brief handbook is formidable. Interspersed among the technical details – and perhaps equally informative – are the author's personal stories of birding adventures and misadventures told with self-effacing humor."
– Fannie Peczenik, Pittsburgh Bird Watching Examiner

"How to Be a Better Birder is a very different kind of birding book, and, once you think about it, the perfect book to be written at this particular moment in the birding universe [...] Strategic has become an overused word in some areas, but that is really what Derek Lovitch is presenting in this slim volume, a way to maximize our time in the field, to see the most and the best birds possible using field experience and technology. Do you want to be a better birder, a strategic birder? I think there is something in this book that will help birders at every level."
– Donna Schulman, 10,000 Birds blog

"While there is no trick or fast-track to being a great birder, this book provides a lot of easy to follow and easy to practice methods to increase your birding skills and your enjoyment of birding [...] The tone and flow of the book allow you to gradually learn new methods to be a better birder. You're bound to find several nuggets of information that you can use today, tomorrow, and always in the search for more birds."
– Eddie Callaway, Birdfreak.com

"A birding book that should fly off the shelves [...] To become proficient at any activity, we all know the mantra: practice, practice, practice. Lovitch urges us to really study all the birds we see, including the most common birds around us. He also suggests that a more holistic approach to bird identification may be a more fruitful way to go about the process of identifying a bird."
– Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"A new take on a well-rehearsed subject [...] It breaks new ground in its discussions of how, where and when to find vagrants, rarities and large numbers of migrating birds."
– Towheeblog

"Derek Lovitch uses his years of experience birding in Maine and around the world to describe the field skills of top-notch birders. He explains how to use habitat, geography, and weather to find more birds and to anticipate vagrants. And he argues that if we care about the future of birds, we must bird with a purpose, joining citizen-science projects and submitting sightings to eBird."
Bird Watching Magazine

"This is an easy read that, even for a serious birder, can serve to shine a light on how old-fashioned field skills can be brought into play more quickly and more often through the use of technology, to determine where the birds are most likely to be found, when they're most likely to be there, and why. When that special life-list vagrant from across the country happens to show up, you'll know right away how to find it before the rest of the crowd. Even top-notch birders can sharpen their skills in an evening spent with this book."
Birding Business Magazine

"Full of enthusiasm and some humor, this book stresses (more than most other birding titles) the importance of understanding weather and the possibilities of nighttime birding, especially when enhanced by easy-to-use radars. In this way, it is as successfully specific as it is well rounded. With engaging anecdotes and autobiographical experiences mixed in, this title achieves the perfect balance of detail and brevity."
– Henry Armistead, Library Journal

"Lovitch provides a good resource for birders who want to go beyond the basics. Calling his approach the 'Whole Bird and More,' the author presents his system in clear language and with examples mostly drawn from his experiences in the field."
– Nancy Bent, Booklist

"[I]t is written in a chatty, enthusiastic and accessible style which works well. Lovitch is a great communicator and it is hard not to be enthused by the examples provided of how to generate your own 'great days in the field' [...] [T]his book provides a fabulous store of information and encouragement which will certainly make your birding more purposeful, productive and enjoyable."
– Andy Stoddart, North Norfolk Birds

"We've come a long way in our quest to put a name to everything that flies, but the biggest tricks in a birder's arsenal aren't necessarily employed to differentiate subadult gulls and silent Empids. Turns out there's a reason certain birders are particularly adept at sniffing out rarities and tracking down vagrants. And Derek Lovitch's new book from Princeton University Press, seductively titled How to Be a Better Birder, seeks to spill all their secrets."
– Nate Swick, Drinking Bird

"[T]he book will no doubt inspire many birdwatchers to take their birding skills to the next level."
– Bryan Bland, Birding World

"This is a good book for experienced birders. It will cause you to think through your current birding habits and challenge you to expand your knowledge and skills [...] Chance does favor the prepared mind. I will buy this book."
– Robert E. Hoopes, Wildlife Activist

"This book, however, is unexpectedly exciting, intriguing and inspiring – It makes me want to get out there, learn what the heck I'm doing, do it better, and actually strive to become, just like the title says, a better birder."
– Cathy Taibbi, Wildlife Conservation Examiner

"A lovely, well written and pretty well illustrated guide that focuses, in my view, mainly on one thing you can do to improve your birding: Pay attention to and exploit your knowledge of context."
– Greg Laden's Blog

"How To Be A Better Birder is a quick read and an important addition to a birder's education [...] The tips and methods discussed at length in the book take out much of the guesswork in finding a variety of birds on the landscape, including rarities and vagrants. The best part however, is getting out and having fun. Birding is not about getting birds on a list; it is about enjoying birds and seeing them in the wild. Use Lovitch's book as a launching pad to get out and bird with a purpose."
– Howard O. Clark, Jr., Canadian Field Naturalist

"How to Be a Better Birder will undoubtedly encourage other birders to become more active in the field, and is recommended to anyone interested in improving their birding knowledge and skills in many different ways."
– Christopher J. Butler, Ibis

"This small book will help birders have better chances at seeing birds."
– Valerie Cunningham, Cardinal newsletter

"This is a fun book and one that holds promise to boost the reader's birding skills."
– Val Cunningham, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"I recommend this excellent book to anyone looking to significantly improve their birding skills by expanding their birding 'toolbox.'"
– Rob Warnock, Blue Jay

"How to Be a Better Birder offers a surprising range of innovative tips for improving birding for such a slim book."
– Melissa Mayntz, About.com Birding/Wild Birds

"This book is useful for those wanting a convenient introduction to birding as it is currently practiced by many of the leaders in the North American field. The writing is informative and conversational, a good balance to strike when trying to make more advanced birding techniques accessible to a broader audience."
– Jeffrey A. Gordon, president of the American Birding Association


Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Advanced Field Identification 5
Chapter 2: Birding by Habitat 31
Chapter 3: Birding with Geography 53
Chapter 4: Birding and Weather 75
Chapter : Birding at Night 101
Chapter 6: Birding with a Purpose 123
Chapter 7: Vagrants 134
Chapter 8: A New Jersey Case Study 155
Chapter 9: Patch Listing 172

References and Additional Reading 181
Index 187


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Biography

Derek Lovitch has worked on avian research and education projects throughout the United States, has written numerous articles for birding publications, and was a columnist for Birding magazine. He now owns and runs Freeport Wild Bird Supply in Maine.

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