Amy
ABOUT ME - My name is Amy and I'm a birder living in central Florida. On this blog I post book and birding product reviews as well as birder gift ideas and announcements related to my birder gift shop on this site. I also have a personal birding blog called Powered By Birds.

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Unless otherwise stated, all books and other products reviewed on this blog were purchased or independently acquired by the reviewer. Readers who make a purchase by clicking on links in product reviews or featured t-shirt posts (T-Shirt Tuesday) may result in the blogger receiving a commission or referral fee.
Archive: April, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday: Featherwise

Posted on April 27th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt is called Featherwise and is done in shades of purple. The text at the bottom of the oval design reads “It’s such a lovely day.” When you’re out birding, that’s a very good thing.

Book Review (1/2): Birds of Europe

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Book Review, Books

I recently got my hands on a copy of Birds of Europe: Second Edition (Princeton Field Guides). This review will be done in two parts; I will post the conclusion after I have had a chance to use the book in the field when I visit the Netherlands in late August. What follows here are my initial impressions of this new field guide.

While I was a budding birder living in the Netherlands, I used a Dutch field guide called Complete gids Vogels van Nederland. I can’t help but compare the new guide from Princeton Field Guides, Birds of Europe: Second Edition, with the Dutch one. The Dutch guide has lovely, large illustrations, sometimes arranged with distracting backgrounds. The Princeton guide, on the other hand, has several varied and clear illustrations to aid in identification per species.

So you know where I’m coming from, as an example, see the pages for the Ruff (Kemphaan in Dutch) from both books shown below (the blur between the pages is from my scanner). The Dutch guide has 10 images spread over two pages, with a habitat background that, to me, really distracts from noticing important field marks. The Princeton guide packs in 18 images of the same bird and they are all crisp and clear, with important field marks noted by some of the illustrations. Plus three other species are also fit onto the same two pages.

The images are small but outstanding, showing most species in varying plumage (seasonal and age-based). In all, the Birds of Europe covers over 900 species (including introduced species and rare vagrants), with over 3500 well-arranged and well-marked illustrations. In my opinion, the images just cannot be beat.

The text is also outstanding. Each species is also given a thorough, detailed description. After an overview, fine details on identification and voice are presented. Key ID points are noted using italics. The writing is detailed but familiar, not technical. For each species, its status in Great Britain and Ireland is indicated by using a short code. This is surely handy for the large audience of this guide – the majority of English-speaking birders in Europe are in the U.K. and Ireland – while not distracting birders elsewhere.

One thing I really like about how the book is laid out is the family overview preceding each section. Here is what the Warbler section looks like.

In this case, each genus under Warblers (Sylviidae) is described.

One thing I miss in this guide is a similar visual summary. I find myself using the family overview pages in my Sibley quite often to quickly find the bird I am looking for. I will pay special attention to this when I am using the Princeton book in the field, to see if my instincts are right.

The book is also lacking a quick (one- or two-page) index, but I can live without this feature. Otherwise I’m really pleased with the layout and look of the book.

The thick paper cover is not too much sturdier than the average paperback; I can imagine a well-used book will quickly begin to show its age (my old Dutch guide benefits from a plastic jacket). My review copy has only been traveling around my office for a couple of weeks and the corners are already starting to fray. As long as the binding holds, I can’t imagine this would be a huge problem – it’s just something I noticed.

The book is well-sized for use in the field. It’s only slightly bigger than Sibley’s Eastern guide, at 488 pages compared with Sibley’s 432. It feels just a bit heavier. It fits perfectly in my field bag.

I’ll be thumbing through this guide for the next couple of months, dreaming about seeing species Arthur and I didn’t manage to find in Holland previously. Our Dutch and Europe lists are actually pretty pathetic, so I have high hopes we’ll be able to add several species to our life lists. I am really looking forward to using the guide in the field later this year! Stay tuned for part two of the review, to be posted sometime after September 3rd.

Disclosure: This is my own original, honest review of Birds of Europe, a copy of which was provided to me free of charge by the publisher.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Happy Band of Birders

Posted on April 20th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt is inspired by a line from William Shakespeare. It sounds like a line out of Henry V but here the text has a distinctly birdy feel. Happy Band of Birders is available on a wide variety of apparel and gift items. Shown here on the Ladies Baby Doll Fitted Tee in Lime.

T-Shirt Tuesday: B*I*R*D

Posted on April 13th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt design is inspired by the classic television series M*A*S*H. Here, however, the operative word would be B*I*R*D.

T-Shirt Tuesday: bird a hol ic

Posted on April 6th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt is called bird a hol ic, which is a noun defined as one obsessed with birds. Know anyone who could be called a birdaholic? Yeah, me neither.

Bird blog & online contests for April 2010

Posted on April 5th, 2010 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of April 5th) blog & online contests by birders, for birders, and/or offering bird- or birder-themed prizes. Click on the links to learn more, check eligibility, and enter to win! If you are running a contest or know of something that should be added to this list, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. This is a monthly post appearing on the first Monday of every month. I will add any updates I find during the month as a comment on this post. If you’d like to stay updated, you can subscribe to the comment RSS feed for this post.

CONTESTS WITH DEADLINES near and far

The City of Chicago has a bird house design competition called Tweet Home Chicago. Register by April 16th. See the Tweet Home Chicago page for more details.

Enter to win a $250 Duncraft shopping spree. Submit your entry by 30 April 2010. Details at Duncraft’s Backyard Birding Blog.

Ornithologist and author Glen Chilton is offering a $10,000 reward for finding a previously unknown sample of a Labrador Duck. See Dr. Chilton’s website for all the details. Ends September 1st 2010. Send your claim to IFoundADuck@glenchilton.com.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

10,000 Birds has recently introduced their Conservation Club, a great way to raise money for bird conservation causes. Members of the club are eligible to enter giveaways offering prizes from Conservation Club sponsors. Have a look at the current and past giveaways, and then sign up!

Each month WildBird on the Fly runs a First Friday fiction contest. If your 500-word story is chosen, you’ll win a recently-published bird book. Submissions are due before 5 p.m. PST on the first Thursday of the month (so the April contest is over). See WildBird on the Fly for all the details.

Duncraft hosts a caption contest on Facebook every week. Become a fan of Duncraft to see each contest posting. Enter to win a $10.00 Duncraft Gift Coupon. New caption contests start each Monday.

WildBird on the Fly periodically gives away books and other prizes with fun, short-notice contests. Follow her blog and her Twitter account @WBeditor to get in on the prize giveaways.

Each month the Birds & Blooms website runs the Where’s Webster? contest. Find Webster the duck on the website and enter to win. Prizes vary and the contest runs month to month.

The Eagle Optics Email Contest is ongoing for anyone subscribed to their newsletter. A new winner is chosen every month and prizes vary. Click here for details.

Birder’s Lounge runs a monthly ID Challenge. Contestants play for their favorite bird/nature/conservation charity. The prize is a $10 donation to the winning charity, in the winner’s name. (Thanks to Amber for the details!)