Birds ofÂ Western North America: A Photographic Guide by Paul Sterry & Brian E. Small is a vibrant, detailed guide to hundreds of birds focusing on theÂ birdsÂ found in the western half of North America. The introduction is well-written, easy to understand and concise–walking you step-by-step how to use the guide most effectively. It is laid out in a way that is simple to follow, intuitive and useful for all levels of bird enthusiasts from beginner to experienced. I read it from cover to cover and found interesting new birds to put on my must-see list and found the process enjoyable!
Many bird guides are not well laid out and you find yourself flipping back and forth to find information about the same bird, this is not one of those guides! In the Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide each bird is described in detail with what it eats; where it lives and where you are likely to see it; what it looks like including determining marks and features; the conservation status of each bird; how the females and juveniles differ in appearance from the adult males and how they all can differ from season to season; what the most common call specific to that bird will sound like and often observation tips.
The Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide is designed in a way to make it easy to use and that is not lost on this bird enthusiast. I love it! The bird names, their descriptions and a distribution map for each are on the left page and on the adjacent page there are colored, detailed photos of male, female and most juveniles for each bird described on the opposite page (See photo above). In the top corner on the left side you will find the page number accompanied by a small color picture of the bird section you are currently in (See photo below). This makes it visually easy to thumb through quickly from section to section until you find the one you are after. Anyone who has tried to identify birds knows this is an important feature in a bird guide book because birds don’t always stay in one place too long.
This guide is really useful for identifying birds and learning more about all birds found in my half of the United States,Â the western half of North America, which makes it more manageable eliminating less irrelevant birds to search through. This lends to the ample detailed descriptions and beautiful photographs for each bird stashed within this guide without adding to the girth of the book. It is packed full of helpful,Â relevant information while still being compact enough to carry around while birding or for everyday happenstance bird identification. This guide and its counterpart, Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide will soon find their way into my favorite, well-loved and well-used, bird guides. It is definitely worth getting one if you plan to be or are in the Western half of North America.
Also available and reviewedÂ is Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide written and compiled by Paul Sterry & Brian E. Small, as well.