A Well timed Basic – 10,000 Birds

It’s hawk migration time once more in North America, time to as soon as once more college ourselves within the artwork of figuring out distant silhouettes and remembering the distinction between a glide and a soar and a glide-wing flap-glide. My ebook of selection for this time of 12 months is Jerry Liguori’s Hawks At A Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors, an excellent tutorial on tips on how to acknowledge raptors by form and flight type, distilling years of expertise and experience into 216 pages. Hawks At A Distance was one of many first books I reviewed for 10,000 Birds and I’ve determined to rerun it this month, partly to remind us all to learn and use it, and partly as a result of I’m making ready for a birding journey in another country and I want all my mind energy to verify I pack the best digicam lenses and hats. (Hey, I did evaluate two books final month!)

Additionally, I’m pondering of Jerry Liguori himself, who died after a 5 and a half 12 months battle with ALS in December 2021. I by no means met Jerry, however I corresponded with him about his books and he commented on this evaluate, saying, “Thanks, it was so good to learn and to see that you simply and others take pleasure in my books!….I like instructing and spending time with folks desperate to study. And I’m nonetheless studying. So, the curiosity expressed right here in watching with me is a good praise. Pleased Hawk watching.” Along with Hawks At A Distance, Jerry Liguori wrote a complementary information, Hawks from Each Angle: How one can Establish Raptors In Flight (PUP, 2005) and was a co-author (with Richard Crossley and Brian L. Sullivan) of The Crossley ID Information Raptors (PUP, 2013).

Additionally, a observe that on this evaluate I point out that I had by no means learn Hawks in Flight, by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton. This was remedied in 2012, when I reviewed the second version. We’re actually wealthy in raptor identification and pure historical past books. And video assets. At a current Queens County Chook Membership assembly, hawk professional Josh Haas illustrated his presentation on migrating hawk identification with movies of hawk species on a cut up display, so we might see the variations between, let’s say, a flying Purple-tailed Hawk and a flying Broad-winged Hawk. The footage was from his new video information Hawks on the Wing. I haven’t seen the entire video but, but it surely appears to be like promising.

The Evaluate:

I confess, I don’t at all times love hawks.  Positive, they’re stunning and highly effective, a reminder of the feral freedom of the skies. They’re additionally confoundingly tough to determine, the everlasting inscrutable spot within the distance.  That is most likely why I quantity so many hawk books in my assortment.

There’s the slim Hawk Watch: At Information for Freshmen, purchased on my first go to to the Cape Might hawk watch, the basic A Subject Information to North American Hawks, a part of the Peterson Subject Information sequence, the useful Hawks & Owls of the Nice Lakes Area & Jap North America, with its photographic comparability charts. (For some purpose, I by no means purchased the basic Hawks in Flight, by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton.)  And, there are the non-field information hawk books, the narratives that learn like love songs to raptors and the large espresso desk books, items from non-birding associates.

So, wanting a Jerry Liguori’s latest publication, Hawks At A Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors (Princeton College Press, 2011), I ask myself, “Why? Why one other hawk ebook?”

Liguori wrote Hawks At A Distance to fill a spot in raptor identification literature; he wished to indicate birders tips on how to determine distance hawks in flight, in migration, within the area, utilizing images taken in “actual life” settings. He’s properly certified to jot down such a ebook. Liguori has performed raptor migration counts at main U.S. hawkwatch websites, and has written articles on hawk identification for the American Birding Affiliation and the Utah Birders weblog. He’s the THE go-to individual for hawk identification.  He’s additionally the writer of my present favourite hawk ebook, Hawks From Each Angle: How To Establish Raptors In Flight (PUP, 2005).

On the coronary heart of Hawks At A Distance are 558 coloration images, most organized as coloration plate composites evaluating totally different variations of the identical chicken.  Right here is likely one of the three plates for American Kestrel.

American Kestrels in Flight, plate AK03; © 2011 Princeton College Press

There are images of buteos hovering overhead and harriers gliding low, of eagles coming at you head-on and flying away with solely the tail in focus, of falcons backlit and kites in shadows.  I used to be a bit overwhelmed after I first opened the ebook, until I noticed that every {photograph} has a goal, illustrating the totally different kinds or colours a raptor can take within the air.  The variety of plates per species varies, which makes numerous sense.  There are 2 plates for Turkey Vulture and 13 plates for Purple-tailed Hawk.

Like The Crossley ID Information, the pictures work greatest when used with the textual content. Liguori give a succinct “Overview” and “Plumage” description for every group (accipiter, buteo, and so on.) and every species, delineating flight patterns, flight shapes, and all plumage variations (and if you happen to thought you knew all of them, you could be shocked.)

Crucial figuring out traits are in daring print, a function I discover enormously useful.  So, I study that kestrels seem “dainty, slim general, and energetic and nimble in flight” however “can seem darkish beneath on overcast days.”  All of the little clues that hawk watchers have accrued over time, all the main points obligatory to differentiate a kestrel from a Merlin, a Sharpie from a Cooper’s, are within the quantity.  Twenty-nine raptor species are lined (no owls): twenty frequent migrant hawks and 9 extra “Unusual Migrants and Others.”

Golden Eagle in flight, plate GE 03; © 2011 Princeton College Press

The photographic plates and commentary take raptor identification to a stage of extraordinarily high quality element which may be unprecedented. In Golden Eagle plate 03 (left) we study that “over snow, grownup remiges might seem considerably whitish (center proper)” and that “when shadowed or in a glide, Golden Eagles will be not possible to age (backside left)”.  This may be intimidating to birders like me, who’re hawk identification challenged.  However the fantastic thing about Hawks At A Distance is that you would be able to drill down by means of the totally different ranges of textual content, taking in as a lot element as you possibly can deal with at your stage.

I like to recommend studying the “Introduction”, which defines phrases like “remiges” (“secondaries and primaries”), and the final chapter, “Shapes”, by which multitudinous silhouettes (30-52) are introduced for every of the 20 main species.  I’m a giant silhouette fan.  They assist me concentrate on construction and never get distracted by plumage which, I now know, can differ relying on intercourse, age, mild, climate, and angle.

All in all, this is a superb, compact information that properly enhances Hawks From Each Angle.  Put the 2 books collectively and also you get the raptor identification information of each hawk watcher’s goals.  The one criticism I’ve is that I would like extra!  I would like extra on Quick-tailed Hawk, one of many unusual migrants given briefer remedy.  I would like companion movies, exhibiting the flight patterns in motion.  I would like Jerry Liguori to come back east and do a hawk watch with me.

Each books are printed by Princeton College Press, which implies the binding and paper are of excessive, sturdy high quality, and that the colour images are properly printed.  (Most of the full-page images are pretty in their very own proper, not solely as instructing instruments.)  Each books are priced very fairly in paperback format (see under).

I nonetheless don’t at all times love hawks.  However I’m fairly keen on each Liguori guides, and dream of the time I can take a look at that speck within the sky and say, “Giant accipiter, highly effective flight, stiff wingbeats–Northern Goshawk!”

I’m interested by your experiences with these guides or different hawk books (or apps) within the area.  Which information labored greatest for you?  Which ebook do you retain in your automotive throughout hawk migration season?  And, in an ideal raptor world, which hawk information writer would you select to spend a day hawk watching with?

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors, by Jerry Liguori, with a foreword by Pete Dunne
Princeton College Press, 2011.  216 pp., 6 x 8.5 in.
ISBN-10 : 0691135592; ISBN-13 : 978-0691135595
Paper $19.95; Kindle $9.99


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