I know it is still only January, but I have a feeling my favorite bird book published in 2012 has already found a place on my bookshelf. I'm referring to Steve Howell's comprehensive Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide (Princeton University Press.) I find all of Steve's titles to be indispensable fonts of information, helpful for anything from quick photo comparisons to deep reading on identification tips, distribution, biology, and conservation issues. This tome is no exception- the sheer scale of the book's contents (a plethora of photos for every species represented, reams of authoritative text, and by far the best maps for these birds) boggles me- there is literally years of sea-time from Steve and his consultants distilled into this volume. Seasoned pelagic veterans and landlocked birders alike will have tons to learn about North American tubenoses from this book and I know it will offer enjoyment to anyone interested in wild birds!
The bottom line: This is a must-have title for any serious North American birder- get it!
From the publisher:
Petrels, albatrosses, and storm-petrels are among the most beautiful yet least known of all the world's birds, living their lives at sea far from the sight of most people. Largely colored in shades of gray, black, and white, these enigmatic and fast-flying seabirds can be hard to differentiate, particularly from a moving boat. Useful worldwide, not just in North America, this photographic guide is based on unrivaled field experience and combines insightful text and hundreds of full-color images to help you identify these remarkable birds.
The first book of its kind, this guide features an introduction that explains ocean habitats and the latest developments in taxonomy. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features such as flight manner, plumage variation related to age and molt, seasonal occurrence patterns, and migration routes. Species accounts are arranged into groups helpful for field identification, and an overview of unique identification challenges is provided for each group. The guide also includes distribution maps for regularly occurring species as well as a bibliography, glossary, and appendixes.
Steve N. G. Howell is an acclaimed field ornithologist and writer. He is an international bird tour leader with WINGS and a research associate at PRBO Conservation Science in California. His books include the Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds and Hummingbirds of North America (Princeton).