Cover image for Birding in the American West : a handbook
Birding in the American West : a handbook
Zimmer, Kevin J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Comstock Pub. Associates, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 402 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL683.W4 Z55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the Great Plains to the Arctic tundra, the American West, including Alaska, is home to a stunning variety of birds. This indispensable volume, both a field guide and a site-finding guide, provides an ideal introduction to the pleasures of birding west of the Mississippi. Featuring practical but little-known tips for identifying birds, it will be welcomed by beginning as well as seasoned birders. Birding in the American West: A Handbook*tells where to go, what birds to look for, and how to identify them.*describes the exciting and varied bird habitats found in the West.*is heavily illustrated with drawings and photographs to help birders inthe field.*spells out useful techniques for distinguishing among similar-lookingspecies and addresses difficult cases in far greater detail than dostandard field guides.*features species accounts with valuable information on bird location,behavior, and field marks.*presents detailed listings by state on where to find birds, with anemphasis on the microhabitats of especially sought-after birds.*teaches bird-finding and bird-identifying skills applicable anywhere.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Serious bird-watching enthusiasts are known for traveling halfway around the world to see a particular species of bird. They are also great consumers of bird-related literature. Finally, advanced birders tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time focusing on superficially similar species that are hard to identify or find. Zimmer's book will satisfy such birding enthusiasts, who can use it to build a store of knowledge on bird habitat associations, seasonal patterns of bird abundance, and nuances of field identification by sight and sound. The author makes it clear that his book does not intend to provide directions to specific sites in the West (from North Dakota to Texas and west, including Alaska). Rather, it seeks to provide generalizable information that can be used anywhere. As such, it is a novel and useful new volume with numerous black-and-white illustrations and photographs of similar species and sought-after birds. This is an accessible book for beginning and advanced birders living in or planning a visit to the western US. All levels. D. Flaspohler; Michigan Technological University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Techniques of Finding Birdsp. 1
Habitat Recognitionp. 1
Elevationp. 2
Key Plant Speciesp. 3
Nest Site Availabilityp. 4
Time of Dayp. 6
Time of Yearp. 7
Tapping the Hotlinep. 13
Finding Pelagic Birdsp. 17
Calling Birds Inp. 20
Ethicsp. 22
2 Techniques of Identifying Birdsp. 27
Form and Structurep. 28
Trophic Structuresp. 29
Wing and Tail Shape and Flight Characteristicsp. 29
Body Proportionsp. 35
Color and Plumage Patternsp. 35
Vocalizationsp. 42
Behaviorp. 43
Gestalt, or Jizzp. 45
Accessory Informationp. 47
Importance of Preparationp. 47
Ready Reference to Key Charactersp. 48
Psychological Influencesp. 57
3 Keeping Field Notesp. 58
Why Keep a Journal?p. 58
How to Keep a Journalp. 59
Species Accountsp. 65
Some Useful Tipsp. 66
4 Difficult Identifications: Beyond the Field Guidesp. 67
Nonbreeding-Plumaged Loonsp. 69
Arctic versus Pacific Loonp. 73
Clark's versus Western Grebep. 77
Horned versus Eared Grebep. 79
Sooty versus Short-tailed Shearwaterp. 80
Double-crested versus Neotropic Cormorantp. 82
Pacific Coast Cormorantsp. 85
Immature Night-Heronsp. 87
Tundra versus Trumpeter Swanp. 89
Ross's versus Snow Goosep. 92
Female Tealsp. 94
Greater versus Lesser Scaupp. 96
Female Goldeneyesp. 98
Female Common versus Female Red-breasted Merganserp. 100
Immature Eaglesp. 102
Accipitersp. 104
Buteos and Other Soaring Hawksp. 106
Shorebirdsp. 117
Jaegersp. 140
Identifying Gullsp. 150
Slaty-backed Gullsp. 163
Thayer's Gullsp. 168
Kittiwakesp. 174
Common versus Arctic versus Forster's Ternp. 179
Elegant versus Royal versus Caspian Ternp. 189
Common versus Thick-billed Murrep. 192
Kittlitz's Murreletsp. 195
Craveri's versus Xantus's Murreletp. 197
Common versus Lesser Nighthawkp. 199
Hummingbirdsp. 200
Sapsuckersp. 206
Myiarchus Flycatchersp. 210
Empidonax Flycatchersp. 213
Swallows with a Brown Backp. 228
Aphelocoma Jaysp. 231
Female Bluebirdsp. 234
Bendire's versus Curve-billed Thrasherp. 236
American versus Sprague's Pipitp. 239
Wing-Barred Vireosp. 242
Baird's versus Savannah Sparrowp. 248
Clay-colored versus Chipping versus Brewer's Sparrowp. 251
Basic-Plumaged Longspursp. 254
Eastern versus Western Meadowlarkp. 257
Carpodacus Finchesp. 258
Hoary versus Common Redpollp. 262
5 Finding the Western Specialtiesp. 267
What Is a Specialty Bird?p. 267
Formatp. 268
Species Accountsp. 269
Appendix Bird Species Mentioned in the Textp. 374
Bibliographyp. 383
Indexp. 391