Review: The Warbler Guide

The Warbler Guide coverThe Warbler Guide Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle

560 pp. | 6 x 8 1/2 | 1,000+ color illus. 50 maps Princeton University Press | 2013 Get it on Amazon

Ok, let’s just get this out of the way right now. The Warbler Guide is the coolest, most informative bird identification guide to be released since the original Sibley Guide came out. That it happens to cover some of our most photogenic birds is just icing on the cake. If you want to boost your identification skills both by sight and by sound, I don’t think there is a better resource for any group of birds. It is a must buy.

What I really appreciate about The Warbler Guide after spending some time with it, is that not only is it informative and comprehensive, it is also beautiful to page through. The species accounts are all littered with many excellent shots that show each bird from different angles, in different plumages next to confusion species. There are zoomed in crops that show distinctive parts of the bird (no arrows on the ‘plates’) and neat icons that quickly tell you some key aspects of the bird. One feature that will be extremely useful for everyone that pays a visit to The Dike in Cape May is the plate of flight shots followed by a paragraph for each bird that describes what to look for when it is flying 35 mph past your face.

The sonograms are also quite captivating to look through, and should be a great resource for people starting to try to visualize bird songs. Not everyone may be aware that The Warbler Guide has an audio companion that you can download and play on your computer or media device. The Warbler Guide Song and Call Companion contains the all of the songs and calls that were used to produce the sonograms in the book, including the chip, song and flight call finders. Borderline ridiculous and really useful. In addition to the song and call companion, there are also downloadable quick reference sheets. You can download quick reference sheets for the undertails, side view, under view, face and more for free and either load them onto your phone or print them out for quick reference in the field.