Petrels, albatrosses, and storm-petrels are among the most beautiful yet least known of all the world's birds, living their lives at sea far from the sight of most people. Largely colored in shades of gray, black, and white, these enigmatic and fast-flying seabirds can be hard to differentiate, particularly from a moving boat. Useful worldwide, not just in North America, this photographic guide is based on unrivaled field experience and combines insightful text and hundreds of full-color images to help you identify these remarkable birds. The first book of its kind, this guide features an introduction that explains ocean habitats and the latest developments in taxonomy. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features such as flight manner, plumage variation related to age and molt, seasonal occurrence patterns, and migration routes. Species accounts are arranged into groups helpful for field identification, and an overview of unique identification challenges is provided for each group.
The guide also includes distribution maps for regularly occurring species as well as a bibliography, glossary, and appendixes. This is the first state-of-the-art photographic guide to these enigmatic seabirds. It includes hundreds of full-color photos throughout. It features detailed species accounts that describe flight, plumage, distribution, and more. It provides overviews of ocean habitats, taxonomy, and conservation. It offers tips on how to observe and identify birds at sea.
List of Species Covered xi
How to Use This Book xvii
Format of the Species Accounts xvii
- Introduction 1
- What Are Tubenoses? 1
- Ocean Habitats 5
- Current Systems 6
- Thermoclines, Upwelling, and Fronts 6
- Habitat Associations 10
- Phylogeny, Biogeography, and Vagrancy 13
- Taxonomy and an Identification Framework 14
- Family Procellariidae: Petrels 17
- Family Diomedeidae: Albatrosses 19
- Family Hydrobatidae: Northern Storm-Petrels 20
- Family Oceanitidae: Southern Storm-Petrels 21
- Field Identification of Tubenoses 21
- Age, Sex, Individual, and Geographic Variation 21
- Flight Manner 24
- Environmental Factors 28
- Appearance and Topography 30
- Molts, Plumages, and Aging 38
- How to See Tubenoses 45
- Conservation 46
- Threats to Seabirds 47
- Seabirds as Indicators 48
- Species Accounts 51-454
Abbreviations and Terminology 455
Appendix A. Recently Extinct Species 459
Appendix B. Hypothetical Records 461
Literature Cited 463
Steve N. G. Howell is an acclaimed field ornithologist and writer. He is an international bird tour leader with WINGS and a research associate at PRBO Conservation Science in California. His books include the "Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds" and "Hummingbirds of North America".
"[...] Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide is absolutely required for anyone interested in the identification of these wonderful birds, and is one of the best family identification guides, period. If you have ever been, are planning to go, or even think that you might someday go on a pelagic trip, then you should get this!"
– Grant McCreary (24-03-2012), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"Learning to identify seabirds requires more time in the field, and more time studying field guides than do most other orders of birds because the field conditions are often so challenging. [...] Anyone who loves seabirds or who is planning a pelagic birding trip will want to own this book."
– Wayne Mones, Audubon blog
"Howell has done a tremendous job throughout this book in evoking a sense of ocean exploration and discovery through seabirds and I think that he succeeds admirably in his goal of synthesizing the present knowledge of tubenose identification."
– John Carlson, Prairie Ice blog
"Howell's introduction is perhaps the most critical and useful piece of writing at the fore of any bird guide in the past few decades because, before this, so little was written on what it means to be able to identify pelagic birds. Howell explains in great detail concepts like 'wing-loading' and how it pertains to the different species flight styles. He breaks down dynamic soaring, the process by which so many tubenoses get around the oceans. He illustrates, clearly and concisely in simple line drawings, the flight manners of several species of shearwater in both calm and strong winds. He even explains how to orient yourself on the boat relative to the wind to best take advantage of passing birds. It's truly a treasure chest full of incredible information, none of it self-evident, on best experiencing the open ocean. [...] Howell, a man who is truly fluent in tubenose, has produced the something essential here. I could not possibly recommend it more enthusiastically."
– Nate Swick, The Drinking Bird
"Seasoned pelagic veterans and landlocked birders alike will have tons to learn about North American tubenoses from this book and I know it will offer enjoyment to anyone interested in wild birds! The bottom line: This is a must-have title for any serious North American birder – get it!"
– Bill Schmoker, Brd Pics blog
"[...] The author’s knowledge and love of his subject is reflected in a superb book, which will hopefully inspire more people to get out on the oceans, learn about these magnificent birds and contribute to their conservation. For around £30 it is very reasonably priced – anyone with an interest in seabirds will want to buy it and then start planning their next pelagic!"
– John Martin, British Birds