London: Academic Press, 1997. Octavo, paperback, colour illustrations, text illustrations, maps.
While good general guides to North American birds are widely available, these days careful and avid birders require the most specialised information on bird identification, especially for the more complex species groups. A Guide to the Identification and Natural History o f the Sparrows o f the United States and Canada provides comprehensive and up to date information on all the features that make possible the identification of all 62 species of New World sparrows that occur in North America, north of Mexico, including vagrant Asiatic buntings and Latin American grassquits. The text gives detailed descriptions of the summer, winter and juvenile plumages of each species, as well as comparisons with similar species with which confusion may be possible. Although the major theme of the guide is identification, each species account also includes a discussion of its measurements, voice, habits, ecology, nesting biology, distribution, taxonomy and _ geographic variation, as well as notes on its historical and present status. Many of these additional features of course also serve to aid correct identification.
The accounts are illustrated with range maps and superb line drawings showing behavioral postures and, where useful, fine features of tail feather patterns. The 27
colour plates splendidly illustrate the various plumages ' of each species with the emphasis on the distinctive appearance of birds of different sex, age and geographical regions.
This beautiful and authoritative book will be a must for the library of all keen birders living in and visiting the United States and Canada.
Price: $25.00 AU