How to Be a Better Birder by Derek Lovitch. Published 2012. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 192 pages.
I haven't been out birding as much as I would like lately. That means it has been very good time to catch up on my bird reading. What better place to start than this book with its no-nonsense title?
Unfortunately for me, the last weeks have not been my first birding drought. During times like these, I start to feel like I've read a lot more about birding than I've actually done it. Therefore, a few concepts covered in How to Be a Better Birder were very familiar to me - at least in theory, if not already in practice. The book is divided into nine chapters, covering topics like Birding by Habitat, Birding with a Purpose, and Patch Listing. Lovitch covers all the bases for anyone looking to improve their craft, no matter the personal birding goals.
There's no denying the wealth of resources available to birders online. This is true of any pastime (or anything at all) today, I suppose, but still it's refreshing to read a book where the author embraces these sources rather than pretending they don't exist. Lovitch does a great job of explaining topics using real-world personal examples while offering links to websites for further study. This is perhaps most evident in the chapter which covers Birding and Weather. Here, Lovitch provides detailed instructions on how to use several different online sources to further understand how weather patterns impact bird movements (a topic much too great to be discussed in depth in the book) and how to use modern tools to plan birding outings no matter where one is located.
I was also especially interested in the last chapter in the book, which covered Patch Listing. Patch listing is something I have really come to embrace since moving to Florida last year. This last chapter in the book ties together all of the skills and concepts laid out in the previous chapters, and spells out how they can all be applied to local patch birding to improve a birder's overall skill.
Lovitch writes in a familiar tone which makes even the most technical topics easy to follow and understand. Each chapter discusses skills that build upon previous concepts, tying everything neatly together in the end. I feel like I learned some new general skills, and I am looking forward to trying out some of the weather/radar and other topics just as soon as I can get out regularly birding again!
I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to other birders who want to go further in this hobby. I did find a few editorial errors (typos, unclosed parentheses, etc) a bit distracting, for which I am deducting a half star. Therefore, I give How to Be a Better Birder 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.