Review: How to Be a Better Birder

Have you ever wanted a book to go beyond a field guide and tell you how to find birds? This book does exactly that. With a huge variety of field guides on the market today, there is little problem finding a way to identify the birds that we see in the field. But how does a new birder learn to find birds? From showing how to use radar to track bird migration to discussing the analysis of a region’s geography to identify potential migrant hotspots, How to Be a Better Birder is an all-around guide to everything that any birder, beginner or advanced, should know and understand before heading into the field.

Much of the information contained in this book can be found in various sources in book, magazine, or online form. However, what makes this book unique and incredibly useful is that all of that information is compiled into a concise, easy-to-read book! And by “easy-to-read”, I mean two things. First, I was able to read this book all the way through with little difficulty. The writing is casual and in a style that is  easy to understand. Lovitch makes a point to refrain from using large, complex terminology without careful explanation. As a result, anyone, even if they are initially unfamiliar with the terms “redetermined migration” and “zugunruhe”, can enjoy the text and learn a lot! Even though the book may read like a story, the chapters are very well-organized. If I was interested in a particular topic, it would be easy for me to simply to flip to that chapter and begin reading without having read the previous section. That said, reading the book cover-to-cover was equally enjoyable and easily comprehensible!

I am sure there will be birders reading this review who are thinking they are advanced birders who do not need to become any “better” at birding. I’d say they are wrong. Everyone who reads this book will learn something entirely new or will discover a new manner in which to understand a previously foggy or misunderstood concept. This is an excellent resource that is fun to read and is something that I will be referring to in the future whenever I am curious about how to improve my birding skills.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Princeton University Press.