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Non-Field Guide Book Recommendations (1 Viewer)

TicoTyler

Tyler Wenzel
Costa Rica
Thought it would be nice to get some recommendations for books about birds that aren't field guides. A few I've read that I recommend:

  • A World on the Wing - great information about bird migrations
  • The Feathery Tribe - a biography of Robert Ridgway that also gives a good overview of how ornithology developed in the western hemisphere
  • Sibley's Birding Basics - helpful even for experienced birders at understanding topics like molt and for beginning birders covers a great number of helpful topics
  • The New Neotropical Companion - helpful overview of neotropical ecology in general with many points specific to birds, although I did catch a handful of factual errors.

On my to-read list:

Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration
 
Thought it would be nice to get some recommendations for books about birds that aren't field guides. A few I've read that I recommend:

  • A World on the Wing - great information about bird migrations
  • The Feathery Tribe - a biography of Robert Ridgway that also gives a good overview of how ornithology developed in the western hemisphere
  • Sibley's Birding Basics - helpful even for experienced birders at understanding topics like molt and for beginning birders covers a great number of helpful topics
  • The New Neotropical Companion - helpful overview of neotropical ecology in general with many points specific to birds, although I did catch a handful of factual errors.

On my to-read list:

Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration
Book recommendations...

- to get to know your birds also from the inside and why they do what they do

Cornell Handbook of Bird Biology (the best)
Gill, Prum: Ornithology (very close contender to the Cornell book)


- for fun

Bill Oddies little Black Bird Book

- Big Year experiences that are still worth reading

Kaufman: Kingbird Highway

- on the natural history of the birds of europe

The best: Blotzheim: Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas (alas, in a language that few in this forum speak)
Nearly as good: Cramp: Handbook of the Birds of Europe etc.


- to find out where the blackbirds (Turdus merula) in your garden originally come from

Reilly: The Ascent of Birds (Caution: hardcore ornithology, definitely no easy read!)

- if you like to own one (well, in fact 16 volumes) of the the best bird books ever

Handbook of the Birds of the World

- if you want to get to know a specific bird species particularly well

Newton: The Sparrowhawk
Watson: The Golden Eagle
Ratcliffe: The Peregrine Falcon
(to name just some very good examples)
 
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"Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin" by Tim Birkhead et al. (accounts of the great discoveries in ornithology over this time period)

"The Evolution of Beauty" by Richard O. Prum (not purely birds, but most of the discussion and examples concern birds)

"Where Song Began" by Tim Low (the author argues that bird song evolved first in Australasia)

"The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf (not about birds but the incredible and almost forgotten life of perhaps the first global naturalist and environmentalist who was world famous in his time and profoundly changed the way we think about the natural world)
 
Book recommendations...

- to get to know your birds also from the inside and why they do what they do

Cornell Handbook of Bird Biology (the best)
Gill, Prum: Ornithology (very close contender to the Cornell book)


- for fun

Bill Oddies little Black Bird Book

- Big Year experiences that are still worth reading

Kaufman: Kingbird Highway

- on the natural history of the birds of europe

The best: Blotzheim: Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas (alas, in a language that few in this forum speak)
Nearly as good: Cramp: Handbook of the Birds of Europe etc.


- to find out where the blackbirds (Turdus merula) in your garden originally come from

Reilly: The Ascent of Birds (Caution: hardcore ornithology, definitely no easy read!)

- if you like to own one (well, in fact 16 volumes) of the the best bird books ever

Handbook of the Birds of the World

- if you want to get to know a specific bird species particularly well

Newton: The Sparrowhawk
Watson: The Golden Eagle
Ratcliffe: The Peregrine Falcon
(to name just some very good examples)

x2 on The Handbook of Bird Biology. I also took the correspondence course that goes with it.
 
Read this one shortly after it was published, still a favorite:
On Watching Birds, Lawrence Kilham

"Lawrence Kilham begins this remarkable book with a simple premise: surely there are many people who aren’t scientists who nevertheless take great satisfaction from observing nature and the creatures that inhabit it. Eschewing species lists and the charts-and-graphs approach of professional ornithologists and competitive birders, Kilham’s On Watching Birds elegantly balances the aesthetic and humanistic with the scientific. The author offers a philosophy of embracing nature through discovery rather than a methodology for categorizing it.

“Watch everything,” Kilham advises the novice, for one may be surprised by what one sees, even when observing the most common of birds. His observations become part beautifully told story and part life-lesson, as the habits and rituals of cranes, crows, owls—even otters—reveal a rich counterlife of often unnoticed behavioral variation and personality in living nature. “Behavior watching,” Kilham concludes, “not only strengthens my bonds with the beauty of nature, but also my empathy with living things.”

 

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