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Are field guides turning birds into border bandits?

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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 00:02   #1
ehrodz
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Are field guides turning birds into border bandits?

Is there any significance to the way in which many field guides divided the US into Eastern and Western sections? I live in South Texas and as a new birder I was ready to buy guides with Western birds until I discovered that more than half of Texs, including my area, is in the Eastern side of the divide. Although Texas may sometimes be considered a Southern or a Western State, geographically and culturally it is more properly considered a Southwestern State. Surely the geography, climate and vegetaion of the Southwest has some ornithological consequence. I think that the way in which field guides are presently divided can cause some serious prblems for bird and man.

I mean how are birds supposed to know which side of the divide they belong? If they find themselfs on the wrong side, they could easily encounter problems with border vigilantes or even the US Homeland Security and Immigration agencies. Especially, birds from the middle Eastern section(birds from the Middle East, as it were). To say nothing of carrier pigeons.

Furthermore, many Texans, especially East Texans, would take very high umbarage if they knew that more than half the State is considered Eastern in any way. The field guides are actually placing most of Texas in a catagory with the ever so liberal New England States and New York! Texans are conservative birders. They would see being placed in this catagory as an attack on their birding, if not their family, values. In addition, these other States did not vote for George W. Bush. And isn't that where many birds live? (In the bush) Wait till Rush Limbaugh hears about this. This issue could really exacerbate the culture wars.

Sorry folks, I think that I got carried away with my silly humor. I actually have a serious question regarding the issue at hand. I am a cheap birder(pun probably intended) I don't want to buy more field guides than I have to. And I sure don't want to carry more than one field guide around me when I am birding. As I said, I live close to the division on the Eastern side. If I buy guides of the Eastern US, will it include birds that wander across the border? Do field guides provide some redundancy of inclusion for us border birders?
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 00:11   #2
Katy Penland
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LOL, well, if you stick with guides that are for "North America," problem solved.
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 00:47   #3
crispycreme
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I was going to suggest this book...

Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of Texas

... until I realized that 1) it hasn't been updated since 1998, and 2) it only includes 542 species, 86 species short of Texas's official list of 628.

I concur with Katy, get Sibley's BIG BOOK, buy pants with BIG POCKETS, and get used to lugging the extra weight!
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 00:50   #4
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The other option if you plan to do most of your birding in Texas is Peterson's "Texas" Birds field guide. Yup - Texan's have their very own!
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 00:59   #5
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National Geographic Birds of North America. Still the best guide.
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 01:27   #6
Rasmus Boegh
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Nope, I can't help you, but I certainly had a (much needed) laugh! As others said; it would probably be best if you buy a guide that cover all of the US or perhaps the guide to Texas mentioned by Dave...
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 03:01   #7
buckskin hawk
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Birding in the middle (don't forget the states on the top of Texas) is great. You can find a western and an eastern Kingbird sitting on the same fence line. You must listen to the meadow larks to know whether it is a western or an eastern. What are some of the other "middle" tricks of the trade?
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 04:01   #8
Katy Penland
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 08:03   #9
rezMole
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You should think yourself lucky to have so many species that you need to split them into two books!

542 species covered in the Texas guide? Here in the UK, there's the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and this contains only 280 species. Of course, we have the Collins Bird Guide which covers Britain and Europe, containg 722 species plus 103 very rare stragglers from other continants - but just because they are in there doesn't mean you get to see them easily in the UK!
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 15:42   #10
ehrodz
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Buckskin, As a middle birder, what field guides work better for you?
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 16:49   #11
crispycreme
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rezMole
You should think yourself lucky to have so many species that you need to split them into two books!

542 species covered in the Texas guide? Here in the UK, there's the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and this contains only 280 species. Of course, we have the Collins Bird Guide which covers Britain and Europe, containg 722 species plus 103 very rare stragglers from other continants - but just because they are in there doesn't mean you get to see them easily in the UK!
I generally agree. But most serious birders don't want to settle for incomplete or partial guide books, because it's the rare birds that they're specifically going after... and Texas gets some wowsers! (one of only a select few states that can put Arizona to shame!) If a bird has been seen more than three times over, say, a century, I think a serious field guide should include that bird. That means it occurs often enough to be seen in an individual's lifetime.
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 19:28   #12
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A North American field guide may solve the east-west problem, but it will not solve the north-south problem of a Texan birder living on the Mexican border. I guess we're never going to be able to teach birds to follow our political boundaries.

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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 20:07   #13
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I tend to bring Kaufman on trips near the divide. Yes, it is crammed, but...I also bring Sibley East.

Kaufman should be pretty good for birds from Mexico and I think National Geographic is too, I just don't have the latest edition.

I tried a similar thread sometime back
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=18700

there wasn't much response.
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 22:15   #14
buckskin hawk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehrodz
Buckskin, As a middle birder, what field guides work better for you?
I carry both eastern and western Sibley's guildes depending on where I go. Locally I only have to carry an eastern but if I travel west past Interstate 35 I carry both. I have also used Petersons and have a good friend with a National Geographic. I like the guide to show several different views front and back, flying and perched. Sibley's doesn't alwasy show the juvenile form though. I also like a small guide for the field. It has to fit in my saddle bags.
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