Wednesday, May 25, 2011

National Geographic Mini-guides

Field Guide to Birds: (insert state's name here)
by National Geographic
2004 - 2006, about 270 pages each
Basics:  softcover; 12-volume series of small (6 x 4 inches) photo guides with about 270 pages; each book addresses 160-170 of the states' more commonly seen or notable birds of which 125 are shown in very nice photographs; geared towards the casual or beginning birder and towards any birder that may like nice photos; basic text covers description, habitat, and behavior; 4-colored range map provided for each bird

A set of books can be alluring, sometimes more so merely because it is a "set" that is involved.  Something created in a "set" implies that collecting should take place; thus, we (at least, I) buy them.  This quirky obsession is probably shared to some degree by other birders who practice collecting habits through the maintenance of a yard list, a state list, a life list, a hit-by-the-car list, or some other variation.

National Geographic has created a set of books, a dozen to be exact, where each introduces the reader to birds of a particular state.  Each book carries a similar title -- "Field Guide to Birds: (insert state name here)".  The dozen books actually cover 15 states.  Three of the books address two states each (e.g., AZ & NM, WA & OR, NC & SC).  See a map below of the states included within these books.

What's shown inside these small-sized books? 
Each little book, or booklet, contains 160-170 birds (about 30-40% of all birds found in the state).  Only 125 are shown with a photograph.  These 125 "core" birds are displayed in a single, good quality, color photograph that covers between a half and a full page.  Nearly every bird is shown by only one individual which is typically the adult breeding male.  Although this can help make for a colorful book, it also acts as one of the elements preventing this book from being a complete field guide for any state.  Besides showing only 30-40% of the state's birds, these books show only 20-40% of the plumages one could expect to see in the field.

The remaining 50-60 species not shown in a photo might be deemed as "token" inclusions.  These additional birds are illustrated in tiny (2-3cm) color drawings tucked in the lower corner of the page.  These extra birds are typically a species similar to or reminiscent of the one shown in the adjacent photo.  Examples would include pairings such as Summer and Scarlet Tanager; Common Yellowthroat and Yellow-breasted Chat; or White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows.

New Jersey
As one might expect, many of the same species are shown in several different books.  This is notable for wide ranging birds such as the Yellow-rumped Warbler and Red-winged Blackbird.  However, it should be pointed out the exact same photo for many of the birds is recycled through different books.  At the extreme, 63 of the photos in the New Jersey book are also found in the New York book.  That's half of the photos.  To me, this equates to buying one-and-a-half books for the price of two.  I recognize the financial and logistical ease of doing this, but it would have been nice to at least provide us with different photos of the Northern Cardinal or the Slate-colored Junco or the other 61 birds.  There are so many other good photos that could have been displayed.

What's included in the text for each bird?
For each photographed bird, general material is provided that covers field marks, behavior, voice, habitat, and regions of the states where the bird is typically found.  The field marks are relatively simple, short comments aimed at providing a minimal description to the novice birder.  Where appropriate, descriptions are given for each the male and female plumages.  A few other comments are usually provided on particular behaviors such as nesting, food, displays, or vocalizations.  A few short lines also address habitat.

Each of these birds is accompanied by a range map of the state.  Four different colors in the map represent breeding (red), winter (blue), migration (green), and year-round (purple).  Additional information on location includes references to a few local sites where the bird may be found.  This often lists specific names of places such as "Marsh Creek State Park"; or, perhaps a more generalized area like "Pocono Mountains".  Sometimes, the location is more generalized such as "in forest, woodlands, and suburban parks everywhere."

Regarding the tiny birds painted in the corner of the page, the briefest of notes is provided to draw attention to their similarity to the adjacent photographed bird.  These notes provide a few descriptive comments along with maybe a note or two on their habitat and range.

Is it worth buying all 12 books?
Unless you're into collecting bird books, there is probably no strong reason to purchase all twelve.  I say this because even with all twelve at hand, they will not help identify all the birds of the US.  But, that was not the designed purpose of these books.  Although nowhere is it stated as such, there seems to be two key aims for each book.

One, is to provide the beginning or casual birder a highly attractive series of photographs that would hopefully capture the person's birding interest as well as to strengthen it.  Two, is to show many of the more commonly seen birds that may be encountered and to provide information on how to identify the birds.  If those were the two aims, then National Geographic did a good job.  If they weren't, well, they're welcome to use my thoughts for marketing.

Who will appreciate these books the most?
Arizona - New Mexico
This guide will appeal more to the casual or novice birder.  It will also be useful to those people who take a fascination with the common local birds that visit their feeders or birds that may be seen during a walk through a local park.  I recommend giving this book to a beginning birders to encourage their interest without overwhelming them with the hundreds of species (and thousands of plumages) that exist.  Start them off easy with this simplified but attractive guide.

You should consider this compact book to be a beginner's guide that will serve as a nice "first book" for the newly indoctrinated birder.  For the more experienced or even semi-serious birder with a greater focus on identification, the limited scope of this book may be disappointing.  If a more complete identification is the goal, there are other photo-guides that show all the species plus multiple plumages for gender, age, seasons, and race.

These books are not the perfect field guide but they are a great practice tool for anyone beginning their foray into the birding world.

How do these compare to the other set of state-oriented books by Tekiela?
Tekiela's Arizona
Stan Tekiela has created a sort of mass production machine with photo guides dedicated to each US state.  As of 2011, he's created a small bird book for all but 5 states (NV, NH, RI, VT, WY).  Plus, he has many more on mammals, herps, trees, and flowers.

These books are very similar in nature to the National Geographic books; however, Tekiela's books show more species for the state. Like National Geographic, they display only one plumage which is typically the adult breeding male.

One distraction with Tekiela's books is the "cookie cutter" approach with some birds.  As an example, the widespread Yellow-rumped Warbler is shown in many books which is to be expected.  However, it is the "Myrtle" race that represents this species, even in some of the western states where the "Audubon's" race dominates.  This same mistake is done to other species/subspecies as well.  To me, it gives an appearance of simply rotating pictures a bit and producing a new cover to the book with a different state's name.  Ah, but that does sound familiar with the 63 photos shared between the New Jersey and the New York books mentioned earlier!

The text is similar and is geared towards the beginning or casual birder.  I've found these books to be a handy and appreciated gifts for kids.  The photos are attractive and they're simple enough to start them off learning the birds.  Even the non-birding parents will enjoy the photos.

What states have a book?
Below is a map showing the 15 states that have generated 12 books.  The pink-shaded states are those that have been coupled together into a single book.

The selection of states does a pretty good job of (a) hitting the major variations of the avifauna in the US and (b) covering the populated areas of the country that may be interested in purchasing the books.  The complete list of books is as follows:

Arizona & New MexicoCalifornia
Maryland & D.C.
New Jersey
New York
North & South Carolina
Washington & Oregon

All of these books are nice little works. They're attractive, easy to thumb through, and, I think, provide just the right amount of information to appeal to those friends of yours who've not (yet) purchased their own set of binoculars but have expressed some interest when asking you  about what you find so interesting about "birding".

Monday, May 23, 2011

Antarctic Wildlife

Antarctic Wildlife
A Visitor’s Guide to the Wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage and Beagle Channel
by  Lowen, James
2011, 240pp, ISBN: 9780691150338
Basics:  flexcover; focuses on the birds and mammals of the Antarctic Peninsula and its waters adjacent to South America; very good color photos of 83 species of birds, 8 seals, and 24 cetaceans; most plates composed of multiple individuals digitally inserted together over a common background; text on each species is dedicated primarily to identification 
This book joins a short list of good quality guides - of either birds or mammals - that concentrates on the Antarctic region.  More specifically, this book addresses just those species found in three particular regions which are (1) the Beagle Channel, (2) the Drake Passage, and (3) the Antarctic Peninsula.

With hundreds of superb photographs, 83 species of birds, 8 seals, and 24 whales/dolphins are presented.  The selection of photos is to be commended with their sharp colors, large size, and overall quality.

For the birds, 44 plates show an amalgamation of individuals that are skillfully, digitally superimposed over a single background.  Most of the pelagic birds are shown with 2-3 photos each and with both dorsal and ventral views in flight.  They are also arranged so the more similar species are compared on the same plate, which can be very handy.  Another 78 individual photos of equal quality provide additional views of the birds.  In a separate 24-page section, 44 of these photos are dedicated to just the penguins.  Presented here is a nice selection showing adults, young, nests, feeding, fighting, swimming, and other behaviors.  In a photo too good to be true (it’s a digital collage), all eight of the region's penguin species are arranged together in a line-up, showing their size differences.

Each species is reviewed in its own account which may be up to a half page in length.  Nearly all the information focuses on describing and identifying the bird.  Besides describing the plumage, this material provides valuable insight into particular flight nuances or behaviors that would prove helpful in identifying the bird at sea.  It was nice to see good effort was put into distinguishing the birds from other similar species.

With many birds, an additional 2-3 lines offer clues on "Where to Look".  This information provides general descriptions of where (e.g., near cliffs, Drake Passage, exit of the Beagle Channel) the birds may be seen.  And, with some of the birds, a brief side-box gives "Talking Points."   These cover various bits of trivia such as populations, name origin, flight, etc.

For the cetaceans (17 plates) and seals (8 plates), the same good quality of photographs are used.  As one would expect, the whale and dolphins are typically shown only breaching the water which is how they'd be seen at sea.  A wonderful little feature that might at first escape your attention is found along the bottom border of many of the whales' accounts.  These dark blue strips are composed of small, narrated silhouettes of the whale at the surface of the water.  These silhouettes show the distinctive shapes, movements, and profiles you'd witness as the animal progresses through its sequence of surfacing and diving.  The shape of the head is shown as it first breaks the surface, the arch, angle, and shape of the back in mid-dive, and, the tail at the conclusion of the dive.  These will prove to be very useful for identifying the quick moving swimmers.

Enhancing the usefulness of those little silhouettes are behavioral descriptions found in the account for each species.  Besides a visual description of the whale/dolphin, the author has included additional tips on how the animal may move, roll, or jump, helping to identify the particular species.

The first 76 pages of the book will be of interest to the Antarctic naturalist and traveler.  This information gives a general overview of the region, its conservation, tips on tourism and when to go, a quick review of the key bird and mammal families, and a checklist for each of 7distinct areas of the Antarctic.

One aspect of this book should be mentioned.  The birds, seals, and whales are grouped (i.e., divided) into three sections (Beagle Channel, Drake Passage, Peninsula).  This strategy has its pros and cons.  It can be handy for the sea farer to focus on just those species expected in that particular region - assuming there is little or no overlap.  But, it also requires the reader to flip through the book to examine a particular family of species.  As an example, if you want to compare the three species of terns, you must go to pages 186 and 206.  To compare the seals, you must look at two sections beginning on pages 78 and on 160.  The cetaceans are the most scattered with different multi-page sections beginning on pages 80, 144, and 172.

As a last few tidbits, the names of all species are provided in English, German, Spanish, and scientific.  There are two pages of text that discuss four primary vegetation environments along with 9 photos.  And, lastly, no range maps are provided.

If you are headed far, far south, you will certainly want to have this attractive, informative, and handy book with you because it is good and, because there are few alternatives.  This book has much better photographs and more information than Todd's "Birds & Mammals of the Antarctic, Subantarctic & Falkland Islands".  Another book, "The Complete Guide to the Antarctic Wildlife" by Shirihai is excellent and is superior to anything else; but, it covers the entire south polar region which may be excessive depending on your destination.  And, the book is somewhat large, making it slightly cumbersome for travel. - (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, May 2011)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birds of the Southwest

Birds of the Southwest
Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California and Southern Nevada
by  Rappole, John H.
2000, 329pp, ISBN: 0890969582
Basics:  softcover; broader overview of the 457 species found in the Southwest region of AZ, NM, southern CA and southern NV; a single color photo (quality ranges from poor to good) shows only the male for all but a few of the species; another 45 b&w photos show various habitats; text describes the bird plus addresses habits, voice, habitat, seasonal presence, and possible locations to find the bird; range map given for each bird; at least 17 species misidentified in the photos

This is really the only book to focus on showing and discussing all the expected (non-rare) birds found in the Southwestern US (see Wyman's book of 1925).  The region covered is Arizona, New Mexico, the southern third of California and, the southern tip of Nevada.  In all, 457 species are discussed and shown with a range map; and, all but one (Gilded Flicker) are shown with a single, medium-sized color photo of varying quality.
This book is not really a field guide nor an identification guide.  This is due to its layout, the amount of text dedicated to natural history, and the selection of photos.  Although the photos and information may be a helpful resource for some of the species, all but a dozen of the photos are limited to only the breeding male.  In a sense, this book is an extra long, annotated checklist.  It's a reference to document all the birds expected in the Southwest.  The quantity of photographs (just one per bird) and their quality (poor to good) serve little more than to give the reader a generic view of the bird's appearance.  For some birds, the photo is too small or dark to be of use for identification.  At the extreme for "poor" photos, at least 17 birds are misidentified.

Some of these errors might be understandable, such as switching the Cassin's and the Western Kingbird.  Less likely races for the Southwest are shown, such as a "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler and the "Slate-colored" Dark-eyed Junco.  Mistaking a Tree Swallow for a Violet-green is pushing the envelope of reasonableness.  However, there are some truly inexcusable errors.  At least six (6) of the shorebirds are wrong.  A breeding Sanderling is labeled as a Pectoral Sandpiper.  Worse, the Surfbird is actually an American Dipper.  The Marsh Wren is really a Dickcissel; a winter plumaged Lark Bunting is labeled as a Sage Sparrow; and, how could anyone confuse a House Finch with an Olive Warbler?  Perhaps it was the tiny size and low quality of these photos that attributed to these editorial gaffs.
Another interesting choice of photos was showing the Gray Hawk and the Northern Goshawk as immatures.  On a different note, additional 45 black-and-white photographs are interspersed throughout the book to show various habitat types across the Southwest.  These help to give a nice representation of the wide array of environments to be encountered in the area.

The text for each bird ranges from one-quarter to one-half page.  This material gives a general description of the bird, covering the plumages for gender, age, and season.  These descriptions offer the basic portrayal of the birds, sometimes giving a few specific points that might help with the bird's identification.  The remainder of the text covers voice, habitat, abundance, distribution, sometimes a similar species, range and, where to find the bird.  This last bit of information lists several places by name where the bird may be most likely to be seen in the four states.  These place names are given more detail in Appendix 2.
Accompanying each bird is a range map.  The bird's range is denoted with four different black-and-white patterns that represent summer, migration, winter, and permanent.

A very handy addition to this book is a 37-page appendix that lists 406 birding sites across the SW region.  Although brief with 3-5 lines each, they provide concise, detailed directions.  These include specific highway exit numbers, road names, and driving distances.  Of the six or seven sites in Arizona I randomly examined, the directions were correct.  I can't speak for the accuracy of the other 400.  The breakdown for the number of sites per state is the following: Arizona=128, California=136, Nevada=22, New Mexico=120.

For those birders who buy this book, the two things considered as useful will be the range maps and the specific birding sites.  These will help to familiarize the birder with where the birds are found across the region; and, will help guide him to locations for any target birds.  If you want a book that is geared towards truly identifying the southwestern birds, you will be much better off with a western guide by Sibley, Peterson, or National Geographic. Those books have more plumages, higher quality artwork; and, identify all the birds correctly. - (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, May 2011)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birds of New Jersey

Birds of New Jersey, The
Status and Distribution
by  Boyle, William J. and Kevin T. Karlson
2011, 308pp, ISBN: 9780691144108
Basics:  softcover; reference to the status and distribution to all birds documented from the state; includes 206 good color photos of both common and rare species; 6-color distribution map for the state is shown for each bird; one paragraph of text is dedicated purely to status, abundance, seasonal presence, and historical records

Birders of New Jersey and the adjacent states will appreciate this good reference on the status and distribution of all the state's birds.  Each of the 456 species documented from New Jersey is addressed with its own account.  And,  206 species of both common are rare status are shown in good color photographs.
Nearly all the pictures are of good quality, showing about 45% of the state's total checklist.  With one photo per bird, these are not meant for identification but for documentation.  This is readily apparent in the photos of vagrants and accidentals to the state where the caption below the photo identifies where and when the bird was photographed.  Only a few of the photos for rarer birds are of lower quality; but, that is less important than the documentation they provide for the bird being discovered in the state.  Examples include Violet-green Swallow, Large-billed Tern, and Brown Booby.

Yes, better stock photos could have been substituted for those few birds but that would have weakened the value of providing proof of these birds' presence.  On the flip side, there are many great photos of rarities such as the Sage Thrasher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and Red-necked Stint.  Some of the better photos are enlarged to a half-page each and are displayed on 14 pages in the center of the book.
The account for each bird is composed of a medium to long paragraph that focuses on three things: Status and abundance; distribution; and, dates of seasonal presence or discoveries.  For the expected species (e.g., White-breasted Nuthatch, Common Yellowthroat), the seasonal status and abundance are provided for each season.  Frequently, brief notes are provided on the habitats in which the birds are expected to be found as well as habitats where they are not.  The approximate breeding periods as well as migration arrival and departure dates are outlined.  Regarding distribution, the description may be broadly termed as "widespread" or, for birds with a more limited range, may provide specific county or geographic names that define the boundaries of the bird's range.

Besides the standard "status and distribution" information, the author has included some interesting and useful information on select species which will be appreciated by the local birders.  As an example, Blue Jays are typically regarded as "sedentary", remaining in the state year-round.  However, the author points out that small population movements do occur, resulting in as many as a thousand birds being seen on a single day; and, that up to 10% of the population actually moves in and out of the state.
Another interesting local fact is presented with the Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees.  The ranges are shown and discussed very nicely.  Then, a special point is made to draw attention to an isolated population of the Black-capped at Sandy Hook where the expected Carolina is actually missing.

For the rarer species, specific dates and locations are given for most of the birds.  When a bird is rare but still expected during seasonal outbreaks or with increased sightings, the general seasonal timeframe is described along with specific examples of historical records.

A range map is provided for every bird in the state.  The maps, composed of 5 colors representing summer, winter, migration, irregular, and year round, are relatively large (2x1 inches) and show the county borders.  Having decent maps is an important component of a records-based reference book such as this.  Two other nice aspects about the maps involve the rarer birds.  Individual red dots denote specific localities where a vagrant has been documented.  And, where the distribution of those rarities is more restricted, such as Cape May, the map zooms in to show only the southern eight counties.
Concluding the book are four appendices that list (a) exotics and birds of uncertain provenance, (b) unaccepted species, (c) list of review species, and, (d) identification information.  This last Appendix D (p279) provides some identification material on five pairings of similar species (e.g., Black-chinned Hummingbird, Lesser Nighthawk, or Pacific Golden-Plover).  This information compliments the photos shown in the book, providing the reader with some key points for identifying the rarer birds.

Any birder familiar with New Jersey or, who runs out to Cape May eagerly in search of seasonal vagrants or, is geared towards useful ornithological records will appreciate having this book at hand in his library. - (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, May 2011)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Birds in Place

Birds in Place
Habitat-Based Field Guide to the Birds of the Northern Rockies
by  Icenoggle, Radd
2003, 380pp, ISBN: 1560372419
Basics:  softcover; a general guide to birds in the Rocky Mountains across 7 states and provinces; 264 species shown in color photos of variable quality; birds arranged into 21 different habitat types; majority of text is dedicated to natural history aspects; a general description is given for each bird along with a 4-color range map; 95 nice color photographs show various habitat types; each habitat chapter is introduced with 3-6 pages that discuss the vegetation, ecosystem, associated birds, weather, etc.
A clue to the key difference about the unique approach taken by this bird guide is found in its subtitle: " Habitat-Based Field Guide".  The book is divided into 21 different habitat types, each showing its respective assortment of birds.  In all, 264 species are shown in about 285 color photographs of varying quality.  These photos show a single bird, typically of just the breeding male.  Another 95 photos offer some very nice images of the many habitat types one can find in the Rockies.
At first thought, habitat might seem like a handy way of arranging the birds.  Somewhat like a local field guide that shows just the birds of a particular park or a county, why not show just the birds found in a particular habitat in which you may be birding?  The answer is, callously, "Because it doesn't work very well"; especially when compared to existing field guides.  This is due to four critical points.

One, just as the author acknowledged in the introduction, is "most birds occur in multiple habitats."  This is even more true during the several weeks in each of spring and autumn migration.  In this book, a bird is shown in only one habitat.  Consequently, if you see a dull grayish flycatcher in the "Moist Douglas-Fir" habitat, it must be a Hammond's, right?  No.  It would be equally inaccurate to say if you're not in that habitat then it must not be a Hammond's Flycatcher.

A second reason the book's organization is problematic is due to the number of species listed with each habitat.  At least seven habitats are shown with fewer than ten (10) species.  The "Aspen Parkland" has only three while the "Whitebark Pine Forest" has only a single bird.  What should we do when we realistically see 10-15 species in the Whitebark Pine Forest?  This leads us to point #3.

The layout of the book prevents us from comparing similar species or, even species in the same family.  Since one family of birds can be scattered throughout the book (e.g., warblers), you must sift through many pages to compare or read about the similar species.  Compounding the issue is an index that departs from the normal practice of alphabetically listing birds by group/family (e.g., Warbler: Nashville, Townsend's, Yellow, etc.).  Instead, the index alphabetically arranges the full name of each bird, splitting up like members of a group.  This means American Redstart is at the beginning of the index, Yellow Warbler is at the end, and Nashville Warbler somewhere in the middle of the 264 birds.  You must now search for the word "warbler" line by line to see on which page a warbler can be found.  However, you must be aware some warblers are actually called by a different name such as "redstart", "waterthrush", "ovenbird", "chat", or "yellowthroat".  This will work against the casual birder.

The fourth reason this format may pose issues is you must be more-than-familiar with the identification of habitat types.  When you're out birding in the Rockies (especially for the first time), can you easily discern if you are in a "Dry Coniferous" vs. "Cedar-Hemlock" vs. "Moist Douglas-Fir" vs. "Spruce-Fir" forest?  If you don't recognize the exact habitat, you'll be looking at the wrong set of birds in the book.  If you see a mystery flycatcher in the Montane Shrubland, the Sage Shrubland, the Dry Conifer Forest, or in the Meadows (the book shows no flycatchers for these habitats), how do you find and identify the bird in this book?  Your only options are (a) to flip through all 362 pages of other habitats until you see something that looks right or, again, (b) you peruse through the index for the word "flycatcher" to find each bird's corresponding page.  Keep in mind some flycatchers are called "pewees".  You'll need to search for that word, too.  Oh, and "phoebe".

The account provided for each bird offers a general description of the male and female.  Additional material, typically a paragraph each, is given for feeding, habits, nest, voice, primary habitat and, "other habitats".  The natural history material is the focus of each bird's account, making up about 80% of the information provided.  The photographs show some species nicely such as the Lewis's Woodpecker, Bobolink, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee.  In contrast, they also shows many others rather poorly.  This is due to the birds being photographed at a distance, making them very small in the photo.  As an example, inside its 2-inch photo you will see a tiny Snowy Owl, Winter Wren, Brewer's Sparrow, or Pygmy Nuthatch, all of which are less than 9mm.  This means they're small enough to be obscured by just the eraser at the end of your pencil.  The photo of the Ruffed Grouse is barely recognizable.  Besides being small, it is severely shadowed, silhouetted against the snow, and looks like a stick.  Perhaps it was meant to be an example of natural camouflage.

Also accompanying the species account is a decently sized range map that shows an area from NW Wyoming to the Oregon coast and north to the southern half of British Columbia and Alberta.  With four different colors, the maps show the general range of the bird for winter, migrant, breeding, and resident.  Complimenting the map is a horizontal bar showing the relative abundance of the bird in each month.  The width of the bar denotes the abundance and the colors used matches the color scheme found in the map.
Introducing each of the 21 habitat chapters is a nice 3-6 page overview of the vegetation characteristics that make up the relevant environment.  This information discusses its climate, various plant species, and other natural history notes.  These introductions typically contain the best, as well as largest, photos.  At least 2-4 photos are provided, giving the reader a nice image of the habitat's typical appearance.

Will this book allow you to identify the birds?  Yes, for some of the easier birds; but, not with confidence for many of the others.  In the field, you will encounter many plumages other than just the breeding male pictured in this book.  Some photos simply don't show the bird well, such as the Plumbeous Vireo with only its head sticking out of the nest or the itty-bitty Dusky Flycatcher that shows us only a distant belly and face.  In fact, I'm not sure this is actually a Dusky, (head shape and dark bill) but the tiny photo doesn't allow us a chance for a true identification.  One clearly misidentified photo is the full page, very nice shot of a non-breeding plumaged Wilson's Phalarope on p374.  It is mislabeled as a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Perhaps contrary to what my review may infer, this is a delightful book if…if the reader has an enhanced interest in the natural settings in which birds are found.  I recommend this book to those people who are more oriented towards an all-outdoor perspective with a casual interest in the birds they encounter along the way.  Essentially, this is a nice book to learn what birds may be associated with a habitat, but it is not an efficient nor effective means of learning to identify all the birds found in those habitats.

Too many birds are missing from each habitat that would be seen and, it's cumbersome to quickly maneuver through the book in search for a particular bird or its possible similar species. Perhaps a more fitting title of this book would be "A Guide to Northern Rocky Mountain Habitats and Some of Their Associated Birds in the Breeding Season". – (written by Jack, shown with sample pages at Avian Review, May 2011)