Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hawks at a Distance: a Review - 15 Aug 2011

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors  Jerry Liguori
With a foreword by Pete Dunne
Paper | 2011 | $19.95 / £13.95 | ISBN: 9780691135595
Cloth | 2011 | $49.50 / £34.95 | ISBN: 9780691135588
216 pp. | 6 x 8 1/2 | 558 color photos. 896 halftones. 2 tables.
e-Book | 2011 | $19.95 | ISBN: 9781400838264

Pete Dunne nicely sums up Hawks at a Distance when he proclaims, “Jerry Liguori’s new book has redefined the art of hawk watching and pushed field guides to new heights. And distances!” Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors is a must have for anyone serious about watching / counting hawks in migration.

This is a “real world” field guide that hawk watchers and counters will appreciate. Images are numerous, and SMALL, just like what we’re used to seeing at the watch sites. Raptors are shown from above, below, in front, and from behind. Backgrounds range from blue skies to heavy clouds, during morning, mid or late afternoons. No matter how good a hawk watcher you think you are, you’ll be put to the test trying to find one or more field markings that might indicate gender, age or species.

Those who are familiar with Liguori’s “Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors in Flight” will find the Introductory chapter of this book largely copied from his first gem. Here, he describes how to use this book, and defends the logic behind his choice of terminology. For example, Liguori uses the terms ‘light’ and ‘dark’ instead of ‘morph’ and/or ‘phase’. Why? Because ‘distance’ is the key term here. Images are small so that the raptors appear to be distant. But Liguori lays out the birds so that they’re seen in a variety of poses. Additional hints are given with regards to hawk counting, photography and ethics.

Liguori breaks down species accounts into accipiters, buteos, falcons, eagles and vultures, uncommon migrants (condors, kites), and others. He rounds out the book with “The Shape Guide”, a section of silhouettes of each species in a variety of angles and poses.

Overviews for each species are given. Liguori highlights (in bold) those features that hawk watchers should look for when identifying a particular bird. For example, “accipiters are recognizable in the field by their long-tailed, short-winged silhouette…Sharp-shinned Hawks have stocky wings; the wings of Cooper’s Hawks are slightly longer and slimmer: and Goshawks have broad-based wings with tapered ‘hands’…

Plates are then laid out showing juvenile and adult birds in good and bad light, from below, and then from above. Pics showing birds head-on, and flying away also add to ID challenge.

Hawk watchers who are new to the sport may wish to get Liguori’s first book, “Hawks From Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors in Flight” before purchasing this book. Much of the same information is given in both books, but readers will find the larger photos of raptors in flight easier to view, and features easier to comprehend. For those of you wishing to push your hawk-watching skills to new levels, grab your binoculars and get a copy as soon as you can!

Thanks to Princeton University Press for contributing a copy of this book for review.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Jerry, I need to get a copy of this book. I look forward to getting down to Lake Erie Metropark & Pointe Mouillee, more often.

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