Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

New book on 'seawatching'

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird books Updated: September 25, 2013 - 9:50 AM

Three pelagic birding trips await me this fall, all from West Coast ports. If timing were different I might have the perfect companion in my bag. That would be the western edition of a new Peterson field guide. The one I'm looking at is the "Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight." I'm assuming that a western edition is in the works. I certainly hope so. The excellent eastern edition expands and improves waterbird information found in the basic Peterson bird ID books. Here are 600 pages of detail, a massive effort by authors Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox. The book covers 15 waterbird families: cormorants, anhinga, loons,grebes, alcids, shearwaters and petrels, storm-petrels, frigatebirds, gannets and boobies, pelicans, skuas and jaegers, gulls, black skimmer, and terns. 

The book is photo-rich. Birds are shown from many points of view, alone, in flocks, in the air, on the water. Text picks up where photos leave off. Each species is given several hundred words discussing size, structure, flight and flocking, appearance for each sex at key age points, and similar species. 

There is a list of favored places for seawatching. There are records of single-day counts by species. There are quiz questions and answers, a test of your work with the book. The book will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt under sponsorship of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the National Wildlife Federation. Publication date and price are not available at this time.

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