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: January, 2011

Book Review: The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds

Posted on January 18th, 2011 in Book Review, Books

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald & Lillian Stokes. First published 2010. As reviewed and pictured: Softcover, 792 pages.

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America is an amazingly comprehensive new photographic guide. Over 850 species are covered, ranging from common feeder birds to rarities. Each species is represented by one to 11+ plus photos, depending on the need. For example, feral non-native parrot species may be represented by one image, while other species in the gull or hawk families may have many more.

The photos in the guide are stunning. Sorry to say my photos here are rather poor; they are provided to show how the pages are arranged. Each bird also has strong text, too, providing keys to identification with a nice emphasis on shape and key tips to identifying birds in flight. Special ID tips are provided for certain families too (for example, distinguishing phoebes and kingbird species). The provided range maps are clear and well-sized in proportion to the rest of the entry.

There are some great little extras in this guide, some of which I haven’t seen in other recent field guides. The birds are arranged in taxonomic order, of course, with each family color-coded using a bar on the bottom of each page to make it easy to quickly find bird families. The ABA code for each bird is shown after the species name. On each photo the plumage type is noted, along with the month and location the photo was taken. Subspecies are noted, when appropriate, along with ID tips (also when appropriate).

The front fold-out cover page has a quick-find index, plus keys to using quantitative shape for species identification. The very first page of the book is a “key to bird accounts” – how to use the guide – which I find extremely well-placed. Sometimes it’s maddening to search for range map color codes or the meaning of captions in the early pages of a book. I love this feature. The guide also comes with a supplemental CD of 600 bird sounds; these are helpfully noted in the species accounts. The final page of the book is an index of the bird songs, and the back fold-out cover page provides a quick and basic “parts of a bird” anatomy lesson.

The size of this “field guide” must be noted – it’s big. And it’s heavy, weighing in at nearly three pounds. While it may not be practical to lug this gorgeous field guide out on a hike, it’s a wonderful reference and a welcome addition to my library of guides. I have been using it at my desk for the past few weeks to look up birds for Birdorable and other blog posts or articles and I find it really handy to use. I give The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

January 2011 Giveaway Winner

Posted on January 14th, 2011 in Books, Contest

Thank you to everyone who entered my first blog giveaway. I used a random name picker to select the winner. Congratulations to Robin Robinson on winning my copy of Flyaway! Thanks, too, to the author Suzie Gilbert for her kind comment. Robin, I’ll contact you via email to get your address details.

January 2011 Giveaway: Flyaway

Posted on January 5th, 2011 in Contest, Giveaway

Yesterday I posted a 5/5 review of Suzie Gilbert’s book about her adventures in bird rehabilitation, Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings. In the first of what I plan to be monthly giveways or contests, I’m giving away my copy of Flyaway. I read the book in about three days and while my copy is now technically used, I purchased it new and it is in like-new condition. Perfect for a giveaway, I think!

Since this is my first giveaway, I’m keeping it simple. The contest is open to everyone (global). If you’d like to enter a drawing to win Flyaway, just leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm EST on Thursday, January 13th. A random entry will be chosen sometime on Friday, January 14th.

Book Review: Flyaway

Posted on January 4th, 2011 in Book Review, Books

Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Suzie Gilbert. First published 2009. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 340 pages.

As a nature lover, I believe in helping wildlife any way I can. When it comes to rescuing wild animals in trouble, in virtually all cases the best thing to do is call a qualified, licensed wildlife rehabber. Since taking the Raptor Internship at Flint Creek Wildlife last year, I’ve become interested in the idea of rehabbing birds, but I haven’t had the opportunity to take this interest any further. Volunteering with FCWR in my limited capacity has already made it perfectly clear to me that wildlife rehabilitation takes an enormous amount of dedication. Maybe some day!

In Flyaway, author Suzie Gilbert recounts her struggles as she starts up a home-based wild-bird rehabilitation center. Chapter after chapter, stories of individual birds are told. The tales range from miraculous to hilarious, and from heartwarming to the truly heartbreaking.

Through each compelling bird story, the personal trials of the enthusiastic new rehabber are also related. Gilbert juggles her family, which includes two growing children, with her thankless role as caretaker of a never-ending stream of incoming avian patients. Despite vowing to only take in certain birds – songbirds in need of a flight chamber prior to release – she ends up with much more, including orphaned nestlings, injured raptors, ailing herons, and others. Many others. It’s too hard to say no; that and more takes a toll on the rehabber.

I have never both laughed and cried so often while reading a book. Gilbert is brutally honest with the reader about her failures as well as her success stories. She encounters the best and worst in humanity during her wildlife rehabilitation journey, and I found myself alternating between wanting to rehab birds myself to just cursing the entire human race. In the end, though, the book is an uplifting story of one woman’s journey as a wild bird rehabber and one I’m sure anyone interested in birds will love. I give Flyaway 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

Bird blog & online contests for January 2011

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of January 3rd) 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, 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.


Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is giving away a blog-branded hoodie. Find this month’s hidden bird to be eligible for the drawing. This monthly giveaway usually ends by the end of the month, so submit your answer before January 31st! See the contest page for details.

Cornell’s Celebrate Urban Birds project has a Flights of Fancy Challenge running through February 1, 2011. Answer the challenge with a photo, poem, video, or other format. Prizes include feeders, nestboxes, and more.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

Birder’s World magazine runs a Photo of the Week Contest. Check out the rules page to find out how to enter. Prizes include gear from Zeiss optics.

Subscribers to Birding Adventures TV’s digital newsletter may enter the regularly-occurring BATV quiz for a chance to win $10 Nikon gift vouchers or other prizes. You’ll need to subscribe to the BATV News mail list to see the bird ID quiz photos.

Members of 10,000 Birds’ Conservation 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! Membership costs $25 per year and the funds go towards various conservation causes.

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!)