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Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds (Peterson Reference Guides) Hardcover – May 20, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Reference Guides
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547152353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547152356
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
To most observers,molt seems an overwhelming subject. But birders use many aspects of molt more than they realize--to distinguish juvenile birds from adults, to pick out an individual hummingbird from among dozens visiting a feeder, and much more.

And for those whose interest goes beyond simply identifying birds, questions such as What triggers molt to start? How fast do feathers grow? and How long do they last? offer a fascinating window into the lives of birds. Put plainly, molt relates in some way to everything a bird does, including where it lives, what it eats, and how far it migrates.

Here, for the first time, molt is presented for the nonscientist. Molt is very orderly and built on only four underlying strategies: simple basic, complex basic, simple alternate, and complex alternate. This book clearly lays out these strategies, relates them to aspects of life history, such as habitat and migration, and makes this important subject accessible.



A Look Inside Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Notice the long “breeding plumes” on this adult Great Egret.
(Marin County, CA, 15 Mar. 2008)
The bright red epaulettes of a male Red-winged Blackbird are used for display. (Marin County, CA, 13 Mar. 2008) A Greater Sage-Grouse male showing the limited prealternate molt of head and neck feathers. (Jackson County, CO, 26 Apr. 2008)
The scapulars on this first-cycle Double-crested Cormorant cover the joint between the wings and the body. (Sonoma County, CA, 23 Dec. 2008) The wirelike tail streamers of a Red-tailed Tropicbird require almost 6 months to reach their full length. (Norfolk Island, Australia, 29 Mar. 2007) A Snail Kite hawk showing stepwise waves of wing molt.
(Nayarit, Mexico, 15 Jan. 2007)

From the Inside Flap

Feathers are an integral part of birds’ lives. They cover and protect a bird; signal a bird’s sex, age, and breeding status; and enable it to fly. But feathers don’t last forever, and they need to be replaced by a process known as molt.
 
Molt can seem like an intimidating topic but really it isn’t. Even though birds have evolved many ways of balancing when and where to molt with other aspects of their life history, their molting patterns are actually very orderly and built upon only four underlying strategies: simple basic, complex basic, simple alternate, and complex alternate. 
 
The Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds clearly explains the molting strategies of each family of birds, using beautiful, large photographs to illustrate and simplify this important and useful tool in bird identification.
 
Armed with a new understanding and appreciation for molt, birders can improve their skills with any number of species. Beyond identification, birds’ molting patterns reflect factors such as their habitat, food, clutch size, migration distance, and body size, and offer a novel window through which to view the remarkable lives of birds.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

STEVE N. G. HOWELL has written many books and papers on birds, including Hummingbirds of North America and A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. He has been affiliated with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory for twenty years and is currently a senior birding tour leader for WINGS, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bruce on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first book I have ever taken the time to review, and the only book I have ever pre-ordered on Amazon. I usually wait for a few reviews to roll in before ordering a book, but I bought this one before the publication date based largely on the strength of Howell's other books. I'm happy to say this one is destined to be a classic, just like his other books. It does a masterful job balancing detail with big picture relevance, making it very accessible for the average birder, yet scholarly enough for a field ornithologist. You can use it as a reference book to look up details of molt in various bird families or species, or just sit down and read it cover-to-cover. It is definitely a great read, with a thorough and very interesting introduction on molt patterns and terminology, and very lucid descriptions of what once seemed like very confusing topics to me (such as stepwise wing molt).

The book is profusely illustrated with high quality photographs illustrating all the molt features discussed in the text. This greatly enhances the clarity of the points being made, and makes it much easier to go out and observe these features in the field.

The only minor criticism I have is with the slightly cumbersome referencing system. References are cited as superscript numbers in the text. Once you have the number, you go to the end of the chapter to get the author last name and year of publication, then you have to go to the bibliography at the end of the book to get the full reference. Most readers won't even notice it, but I'm a bit of a reference junkie. This minor issue is more than offset by a several things that enhance the quality and usefulness of the book. First, there are no typographical errors anywhere (at least that I could find in a normal careful reading).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian L. Sullivan on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Steve Howell has contributed much to our understanding of birds including pioneering works on the Birds of Mexico, Gulls, and Hummingbirds. In this book, he again breaks new ground by synthesizing, organizing, and distilling patterns of molt across all North American bird families. One should read this book for the introduction alone, which takes an incredibly complex topic (molt), and makes it understandable for birders of all levels. Molt is an important process in the lives of birds, and as such is one that should be observed and understood at a basic level by all birders. I'm not often moved to write reviews, but this book is a stand-out among recent bird references. It should be on the shelf of every birder, not just in North America, but around the world.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. E. Wright on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The significance of this splendid book extends far beyond merely helping us distinguish the eastern crows or the western empids. With his characteristic clarity, completeness, and good humor, Steve Howell has given the birding world an entree into one of the great mysteries of bird biology, and the time spent studying Molt-and molt-will be more than rewarded by the increased sophistication and enjoyment with which we will be able to look at even the commonest birds. Molt, says the author, "offers a fascinating window through which to appreciate how the lives of birds are built." Many thanks to Steve Howell for opening that window to the rest of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TBT on December 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book, explains technical molt and molt pattern strategies in layman terms. Perfect for someone wanting a detailed explanation but not wanting to read something as heavy as Plye on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John R Williams on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was exactly the high quality, in-depth information I expected from this author.
Howell continues to take avid birders to a new level.
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