Bird Resources

Scroll Down for these Categories:
Field Guides
Bird Songs
Specialty Guides
To Learn More About Birds
Favorite Books and Authors
Birding Basics
Where the Birds Are

Selected Resources: The resources and literature on birds for the casual hobbyist and the serious birder has exploded. These “Selected Resources” are the places I turn most often for identification help, background, information, science, and entertainment as I pursue my hobbies of bird watching, bird photography, and writing about birds.

Field Guides
No one field guide is the perfect guide. Every guide has strengths and weaknesses. For difficult identifications, it will be necessary to compare several guides. Among the many excellent general field guides, these are the ones which I use most often, and I recommend that new birders begin with one or more of these.

•Dun, Jon L. and Jonathan Alderfer, National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 5th edition, 2006

•Mitch Waite Group, iBird Explorer Plus, 2006-2009. For iPhone or iPodTouch, this is the best electronic application available at this time.

•Kaufman, Kenn, Birds of North America, 2000.

•Peterson, Roger Tory. Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 2008.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 5th edition, 2002.
    A Field Guide to Western Birds, 4th edition, 2009.

•Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2000.

    The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 2003.
    The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, 2003.

Bird Songs
•Kroodsma, Donald, The Backyard Birdsong Guide, a Guide to Listening, 2008.

Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, Eastern Region, 3CDs, 1997.
    Western Region, 4CDs, 1999.
These two Stokes collections are the most complete collections for North America. Each comes with a booklet to find the tracks. If you are only using the CDs, finding the track of a particular bird is cumbersome. However, birdJam Maker ( is an iPod application which organizes the bird songs into playlists and makes it possible to find and listen to a particular bird in about 30 seconds. It is very useful in the field. Most electronic field guides also include bird songs, though not as many variations as contained in the Stokes collections.

•Walton, Ruchard K. & Robert W. Lawson, Birding by Ear, A Guide to Bird Song Identification, 1989.
    More Birding by Ear, 1994.
These are teaching guides, and they are excellent. I used the early cassette editions to learn basic bird songs. Excellent tool to get started.

Specialty Guides
    There are many guides which focus on particular types of birds. Shorebirds, gulls, and hawks are among the most challenging. I often encounter the limitations of the general field guides and turn to one of the specialty guides.


•Grant, P.J., Gulls, A Guide to Identification, 1999.

•Olsen, Klaus Malling & Hans Larsson, Gulls of North America, Europe, and Asia, 2004.


•Clark, William S. & Brian K. Wheeler, Hawks of North America, 2nd edition, 2001.

•Dunne, Pete, David Sibley & Clay Sutton, Hawks in Flight, 1988.

•Wheeler, Brian K. & William S. Clark, A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors, 1995.

•Liguori, Jerry, Hawks from Every Angle, 2005.

•Wheeler, Brian K., Raptors of Eastern North America, 2003.


•Mullarney, Killian, et al., Birds of Europe, 1999. ... well, because, you just never know what might be where ...


•Message, Stephen & Don Taylor, Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia. A Guide to Field Identification, 2005.
•O’Brien, Michael, et al., The Shorebird Guide, 2006.

To Learn More About the Birds
•Audubon, John James, The Birds of America, 7 volumes. Dover edition replication, 1967, of octavo edition published in1871.

•Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life Histories of North American Birds, 21 volumes, 1919-1968. Dover edition replication published 1964 & 1968.

•Choate, Ernest A., American Bird Names, 1985.

•Dunne, Pete, Essential Field Guide Companion, A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds, 2006.

•Elphick, Chris, et al., The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, 2001.

•Ehrlich, Paul R., et al., The Birder’s Handbook, 1988.

•Forbush, Edward Howe, Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States, 3 volumes, 1929.

•Forbush, Edward Howe & John Bichard May, A Natural History of American Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 1955. Essentially a one volume abridgement of the previous 3 volume work.

•Hughes, Janice M., The Migration of Birds, 2009.

•Kaufman, Kenn, Lives of North American Birds, 1996.

•Kroodsma, Donald, The Singing Life of Birds, The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong, 2005.

•Leahy, Christopher W., The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife, 2004.

•Lockwood, W.B., The Oxford Book of British Bird Names, 1984.

•Terres, John K., ed., The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds, 1980.

•Weidensaul, Scott, The Raptor Almanac, 2000.

Favorite Books and Authors
•Heinrich, Bernd. The nature writings of this University of Vermont biologist are exceptionally readable and engaging, and scientifically sound.

•Dunne, Pete. Any of the collected short essays by this “bard of birding.”

•Kaufman, Kenn, Kingbird Highway, 1997.

•Rhodes, Richard, John James Audubon: The Making of an American, 2004.

•Rosenthal, Elizabeth J., Birdwatcher, The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, 2008.

Weidensaul, Scott, Living on the Wind, Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, 1999.

•Weidensaul, Scott, Of a Feather, A Brief History of American Birding, 2007.

Birding Basics
•Alderfer, Jonathan and Jon L. Dun, National Geographic Birding Essentials, 2007.

•Dunne, Pete. Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, 2003.

•Sibley, David Allen, Sibley’s Birding Basics, 2002.

Where the Birds Are
There are many excellent guides on where to find birds. The American Birding Association publishes A Birder’s Guide... for many of North America’s best birding locales. The usefulness and usability of these guides is consistently good. There are also many state and regional guides from other organizations and publishers. In Vermont, you will want:

•Murin, Ted & Bryan Pfeiffer, Birdwatching in Vermont, 2002.

 With the growth in birding tourism, there are also many “birding trails” that have been developed, often with excellent brochures complete with good directions, best seasons, and other clues for finding birds. For Vermont and western New Hampshire:

Connecticut River Birding Trail, available from

 A good general guide is:

•White, Mel, National Geographic Guide to Birding Hotspots of the Unites States, 2006.


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