Want to bird like the experts? Birding by Impression shares an exciting approach to bird identification that encourages the use of both right- and left-brain skills to form a complete ID picture. By combining a careful assessment of a bird's unchangeable features with the traditional method of looking at plumage details, readers are better equipped to tackle the difficult task of separating similar birds. Information about groups of birds, with representative images, as well as comparative photos of similar species, provide additional support.
With more than 200 photographs of North American species, this highly visual book shows birds in actual field conditions (such as compromised lighting), and provides quiz photos that allow readers to test their own ID conclusions.
"[...] So, is Birding by Impression worth it? If you’re referring to the practice, then most definitely. It has the potential to improve anyone’s birding skills. As Karlson and Rosslet write: "BBI allows new and casual birders to build lasting ID skills that don’t require constant referencing of field guides, and gives advanced birders an opportunity to take their birding skills to new levels of proficiency and enjoyment. In both cases, the end result of this approach is truly knowing a bird rather than just identifying it."
But Birding by Impression, the book? The answer isn’t as clear. I was really looking forward to it, but was disappointed. I was hoping for more information at the species identification level. But if I look past that and focus on what is here, then I have to admit that it could still be valuable, especially to beginning and intermediate birders (or “improvers”, as an article I recently read put it). It does have some good pointers for separating difficult-to-ID birds. But the main benefit is that throughout the book, and especially in the introduction, the authors model a different way of looking at birds. This filter, so to speak, is built up with experience. Birding by Impression is no substitute for experience (which the authors acknowledge), but it does provide a foundation that you can use to start building that filter based upon your experiences, and to do so much quicker than you otherwise would have been able to."
- Grant McCreary (11-07-2015), read the full review at The Birder's Library
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Kevin Karlson is an accomplished birder, tour leader, and wildlife photographer. Kevin is a co-author of The Shorebird Guide and two other books.
Dale Rosselet is vice president for education for New Jersey Audubon and oversees the statewide education programs.