BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNING BIRDERS
FIELD GUIDES: The best, even for the beginner are:
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA. Roger Tory Peterson. Houghton Mifflin 1980.
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. National Geographic Society. 1983
SONGS AND CALLS: The best way to learn bird calls is with the following "guides to bird song identification": On tapes or CDs:
BIRDING BY EAR (EASTERN / CENTRAL) and MORE BIRDING BY EAR (EASTERN / CENTRAL).
Both tapes are by Richard K. Walton and Robert Lawson. 1989 and 1994. Houghton Mifflin.
To answer basic questions about nests, migration etc., the handiest and cheapest reference book is:
THE BIRDERS HANDBOOK. Paul Ehrlich, David Dobkin and Darryl Wheye. 1988 Simon and Schuster.
To find out where to go to see birds, the undisputed best books for the state are:
A BIRDERS GUIDE TO EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS by the staff of Bird Observer. 1994 American Birding Association.
BIRDING CAPE COD by the Cape Cod Bird Club and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. 1990.
BIRDS OF MASSACHUSETTS. Richard Veit and Wayne Peterson. Massachusetts Audubon Society. 1993. The scholarly reference to the occurance of all the species of birds in the state. This is the book that answers the questions of "how common or rare is that species?" and "when does that species occur in the state?". This book is on the shelf of every serious birder.
DEAN OF BIRDWATCHERS. A BIOGRAPHY OF LUDLOW GRISCOM. William E. Davis, Jr. 1994 Smithsonian Institution Press. A wonderful biography of the gentleman who defined birding in this state in this century.
"Identification Guides": Single volume field guides are no longer adequate to deal with all the identification fine points of a species. There are now many books that cover only single groups of families of species. These volumes contain much more information on occurance, behavior and field identification than any regional field guide. There are many titles, but a few that newer birders have found useful are:
THE FACTS ON FILE FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH ATLANTIC SHOREBIRDS. Richard J. Chandler. 1989 Facts On File. Shorebirds are the hardest group of birds to identify and all general field guides are inadequate.
A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN RAPTORS. Brian K. Wheeler and William S. Clark. 1995 Academic Press. One of the best photographic field guides I have seen.
HOW TO SPOT AN OWL. Patricia and Clay Sutton. 1994 Chapters. Practical information on owling as well as much information on the life histories of these enigmatic birds.
WARBLERS OF THE AMERICAS. AN IDENTIFICATION GUIDE. Jon Curson, David Quinn and David Beadle. 1994 Houghton Mifflin. One of the true "identification guides". This does include all the warblers of North, Central and South America.
The absolute best source of information on birds in our state is the bimonthly journal: BIRD OBSERVER OF EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS. The cost is: $16.00 for 6 issues, $30.00 for 2 years. The address is: 462 Trapelo Road; Belmont, Massachusetts 02178. For those of you interested in bird records and information of western Massachusetts (Quabbin Resevoir, west), there is a more modest, but none-the-less excellent publication called: BIRD NEWS OF WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS. This is published by the Allen Bird Club of Springfield. The cost is $6.00 a year. Write to : Louise Dirats; 161 Butternut Hollow Road; West Springfield, Massachusetts 01089.
All serious birders eventually join the American Birding Association. This publishes a bi-weekly newsletter called WINGING IT as well as an attractive and very informative color bi-monthly journal called BIRDING. Membership also allows you discounts on books and optical equipment at the A.B.A. Sales mailorder store. Please see membership form included in your packet.
There are also many birding clubs in the state. The largest, by far, is the venerable BROOKLINE BIRD CLUB. This club publishes the "blue book" several times a year and offers several field trips every weekend! Membership dues are $12.00/ year. Send to: Steven Arena 3 Kenneth Road, North easton, Massachusetts 02356-1004.
Worcester Countys own FORBUSH BIRD CLUB costs $10.00 to join (covers the fiscal year from April 1 to March 31). Write to Barton Kamp 42 Zenith Drive; Worcester, Massachusetts 01602.
One last club deserves special mention and that is the wonderful HAMPSHIRE BIRD CLUB that focuses on the Connecticut River valley but organizes trips throughout and outside the state. Please contact: Sally Venman; 43 Ridgecrest Road; Amherst, Massachusetts 01002.
There are two weekly recorded services of bird sightings. The EASTERN VOICE OF AUDUBON (617-259-8805) is usually updated on Monday and Friday evenings. The WESTERN VOICE, operated by the Hampshire Bird Club and Scott Surner (413-253-2218) is usually updated Monday evenings unless there is a rarity . There is also a rare bird alert for CAPE COD: (508-349-9464).