cover image ON BIRD WATCHING: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding

ON BIRD WATCHING: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding

Pete Dunne, Author . Houghton Mifflin $12 (352p) ISBN 978-0-39

Judging by the great number of field guides in print, bird watching is among the world's most popular avocations. Dunne (Hawks in Flight) takes a new tack, providing novice birders and those thinking of taking up the hobby with a literate and exhaustive beginner's manual. The quirky and often poignant anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book also make for an interesting read for advanced birders. From the backyard to field trips and guided tours, the author provides valuable information that would take years of in-the-field effort to obtain. Dunne's advice on binocular design, specifications and uses is easy to understand, despite the technical data. There are also helpful suggestions on proper clothing and footwear, which take into account terrain, season and climate. The author explains such esoterica as why birders should never wear white as well as the finer points of proper bird-watching etiquette. There is an important section discussing a range of field guides and how to use them based on the essential keys to bird identification found in these compendiums. Additionally, this birding primer details the best sites for viewing particular species; where to find more information on bird watching; and how to move beyond the initial level of this fascinating pastime into the more sublime reaches of advanced birding. 100 b&w photos. (Mar.)