Bird Watching in the Northeast
July 8, 2004 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Read any good field guides for bird watching in the North East U.S. lately?

Our new home has a huge English style garden and is close to a reservoir, resulting in a lot of great bird activity. My kids gave me some binoculars and an Audubon field guide for father's day and we've really been getting into spying on and trying to identify all the birds. I'm finding the Audubon guide a bit clumsy, though. Any recommendations on guides for beginning birders? How about for kids?
posted by dchase to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I use the Golden Books "A Guide to Field Identification Birds of North America" Things I like:

* region maps are right next to pictures of the birds, so you get a good idea whether the bird you think you see is likely or not
* some birdsong identification graphics, not super-easy to use, but again good for choosing among many different bird options
* bird pictures are drawings so you instead of relying on one photo of a bird which may or may not be typical, you see sort of an idealized version of the bird and some context clues [how it perches, what the babies might look like etc]

I also use Peterson's East as my second favorite. I haven't used bird books especially for kids but ones that group common birds by color, or even little plastic bird ID sheets for your region can be the way to go. You can also put up some feeders with different types of food in them and see what different types of birds they attract. You seem to live a few towns over from my Mom, there's really good birdwatching in that part of Massachusetts.
posted by jessamyn at 9:34 AM on July 8, 2004

Sibley does nice work.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:44 AM on July 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I have pretty much always used the audubon society field guides up until recently when I got a copy of the sibley bird guide (also from the audubon society) and it's probably just be that they have info I haven't read several times already, but I've been carrying them around a bit more. When machines get small enough, i look forward to carrying a digital one.

Seems like a big question is whether you prefer photos or paintings for your IDing.
posted by milovoo at 11:20 AM on July 8, 2004

My parents had a copy of Peterson's when I was a tyke, and I always preferred it to the few Golden Guides we had lying around. (Of course, I was a precocious brat.) If your kids are about 9 or older, they'll probably be fine with the Peterson's guide; the only question is whether you want to shell out the money for the Peterson's or start them on a Golden Guide first.

I also own a copy of Sibley's guide now; you could probably replace "Peterson" with "Sibley" in the above paragraph and it would still be true. The only thing I don't like about Sibley is that it's a significantly larger book that Peterson's (all of N. America vs. East of the Rockies), so it's harder to carry around in the field. But that's probably not as much of an issue for the situation you've described.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2004

I forgot a sentance in there, I meant to mention Sibley's Birding Basics as a good place to start, before the in-depth guides.
posted by milovoo at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2004

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