Review: Birds of Western North America

I came across a beautiful new field guide recently, Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide by Paul Sterry and Brian Small.
I usually prefer field guides that feature paintings, rather than photos, since an artist can bring out key field marks and is not limited by the lighting or behavior captured in a single photograph. But the photos in this guide are a joy to look at, whether you are trying to identify a bird or are just flipping through the book.

bluebird spread
The layout of the book makes it very easy to use. Similar species are grouped together, and the text and range maps are directly across from the photos.  I really like how the bird images spill out over the frame, making the birds look large and three-dimensional.

hummer spread
In the hummingbird section, several species are shown in positions that do not exhibit their bright colors. Since these colors are only visible at certain angles, these photos will be helpful to beginning birders who are confused when they see a hummingbird with a “black” head.

The text is concise but highlights all the key field marks and behaviors. You can’t read the text on the above screen captures, but you can see examples on the Princeton University Press website. A companion volume covers the species of eastern North America.

One thought on “Review: Birds of Western North America

  1. I was struck, too, by the unique layout of the book. I also enjoyed the bird heads on the tops of pages. Soon it will be in my library!

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