49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
A Jam Packed Birding Reference,
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This review is from: Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion: A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds (Hardcover)
Dunne has performed a remarkable feat with this book. He has captured in 700 or so pages the wisdom of a lifetime of birding. This is all the more amazing, or at least shocking compared to all the other bird ID books out there, in that there are zero pictures or illustrations.
Every breeding bird species is covered with a ½ to 1 page write-up. Each write-up is presented in a consistent manner making it fairly easy to scan for what you are looking for. Throughout Dunne adds some levity to a topic that could use more (obviously the Bathtub Duck = Ruddy Duck). Since there are no illustrations the focus is on GISS (general impression of size and shape) or gestalt. The GISS method of birding is an extremely valuable tool for the birder's toolbox. How many times has a bird gone unlabeled because it was only a silhouette or just a fly by? GISS can greatly aid in these ID situations. There is also a great deal of info on behavior and habitat that can be equally valuable in IDing a bird.
Due to the sheer volume of information in the book the density of information is very high and as a result it is not the easiest book on the eyes. Each page has 2 very dense columns of print. Some of the sections within a species account tend to run together, a bit more white space would have helped. It would have meant more heft but this is hardly a book that you would haul into the field so that extra weight would likely not matter.
Overall even with my minor quibbles this is an outstanding book and one that no birder should be without.