Oceanic birds are among the most remarkable but least known of all birds, living at sea, far from the sight of most people. They offer unusual identification challenges – many species look similar and it can be difficult to get good views of fast-flying birds from a moving boat. The first field guide to the world's oceanic birds in more than two decades, this exciting and authoritative book draws on decades of firsthand experience on the open seas. It features clear text filled with original insights and new information and more than 2,200 carefully chosen colour images that bring the ocean and its remarkable winged inhabitants to life. Never before have oceanic birds been presented in such an accessible and comprehensive way.
The introduction discusses the many recent developments in seabird taxonomy, which are incorporated into the species accounts, and these accounts are arranged into groups that aid field identification. Each group and species complex has an introductory overview of its identification challenges, illustrated with clear comparative photos. The text describes flight manner, plumage variation related to age and moult, seasonal occurrence patterns, migration routes, and many other features.
The result is an indispensable guide for exploring birding's last great frontier.
Steve N. G. Howell is an international bird tour leader with WINGS and is widely recognized as one of the world's leading birders and an authority on oceanic birds. His many books include Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide and The Amazing World of Flyingfish (both Princeton).
Kirk Zufelt is a medical doctor with a lifelong passion for birds and natural history. A widely published photographer, he has spent more than a year at sea over the past decade studying and photographing the world's seabirds at some of the remotest locations on the planet.
"[...] This guide plays an important part by acknowledging what do and don't currently know regarding seabird identification, distributions and taxonomy. Therefore, in complete agreement with the authors' aim, this is a fantastic photoguide, which I recommend to anyone who has an interest in the identification, appreciation, monitoring or conservation of oceanic birds."
– Nina O'Hanlon , Sandgrouse 42(2), 2020
"[...] This is an excellent book and a credit to the authors' painstaking research and knowledge. It is a celebration of the diversity and beauty of the world’s seabirds. A combination of the often‐harsh environment they inhabit, together with a complex taxonomy and elusive nature makes them perhaps the most compelling and fascinating of all bird groups. It is indeed a major achievement to have photographed so many of them and to present them in one publication. This is a ‘must have’ addition to any keen birder’s library."
– Nic Hallam, Ibis, August 2020
"[...] Overall, this book is an amazing accomplishment: it is comprehensive yet succinct, both eye-opening and ground-breaking. A brief perusal quickly hammers home just how difficult it is to identify many species of oceanic birds (especially without good quality photos!). The book also highlights how much more there is to learn about the taxonomy of the many cryptic taxa described and illustrated here. Despite the complexity of the subject matter, and the initial panic that might set in when you realize the identification challenges involved, this book is brilliantly organized in a way that will maximize your chances of identifying pelagic birds. It is a moderately-priced bird guide that will prove useful to those who watch birds along the coast, and downright essential for any pelagic trip."
– Grant McCreary (30-11-2019), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"[...] There is no wasted space in this guide and one could argue that it would be even more enjoyable in a slightly larger format. But the authors set out to bring knowledge upto date in a field-friendly format and they have done this in abundance. An inspiration for future seabirding trips, a knowledge base for more familiar species, and a sheer delight to drool over the amazing images of gadfly petrels, alcids, albatrosses and storm petrels [...] anyone with an interest in seabirds needs to buy this guide."
– Mark Newsome, BirdGuides.com
"This breathtaking book is a tour de force for the reader seeking to identify some of the most difficult, contentious, and fascinating taxa in the entire world of birds."
– Edward S. Brinkley, author of National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America
"Steve Howell and Kirk Zufelt are among the keenest and most knowledgeable seabirders. In this excellent book, they pull together what is known about seabirds in a single text. The result is more than just a field guide; it provides the foundation for an appreciation of where we are in understanding seabird taxonomy, distribution and range, and identification."
– Robert Flood, Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town
"A pleasure to read, with a casual but technically accurate style, the book covers the latest identification issues, presents an up-to-date taxonomy, and features a definitive collection of photos."
– Jeff Davies, art editor and contributing artist to The Australian Bird Guide