Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 11, 2014

Rare Birds of North America by Howell, Lewington, & Russell

Filed under: Birds, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Gilbert Water Ranch, rarities, reviews — richditch @ 2:06 pm
Rare Birds of North America

Rare Birds of North America

I’ll admit right away that I’ve got a fondness for books, and especially for those about birds. So I’ve accumulated a decent library made up of of a variety of field guides new and obscure, books covering families of birds like sparrows and warblers and hummingbirds and shorebirds, bird-finding guides to places all over the U.S., encyclopedias and other collections of related material.

Once in a while a book stands out from all the others, and Rare Birds of North America by Howell, Lewington, & Russell is one of those. I can’t imagine a serious birder who would not want to own a copy of this beautiful and useful book.

The dust jacket flyleaf gives the stats:

  • covers 262 species of vagrant birds found in the United States and Canada
  • features 275 stunning color plates of occurrence by region and season
  • provides an invaluable overtire of vagrancy patterns and migration
  • include detailed species accounts and cutting-edge identification tips

All this in a clean layout on quality paper of over 400 pages.

I spent my first night with the book skimming through, looking at species I’ve already seen in the field, and the species I’ve chased and not been lucky or skilled enough to see. I’ve even read about the exact birds I have viewed in some of the distribution accounts in the book. For the record these I’ve already seen in AZ are:

Eared Quetzal, Plain-capped Starthroat, Berylline Hummingbird, Rufous-backed Thrush (aka Robin), Aztec Thrush, Rufous-capped Warbler, Flame-colored Tanager, Streak-backed Oriole, Baikel Teal, Blue-footed Booby, Northern Jacana, Nutting’s Flycatcher

And those I’ve seen elsewhere in the U.S.:

White-winged Tern (DE), Whiskered Tern (DE), Wood Sandpiper (CT), Spotted Redshank (NY).

There might be more that I missed. But that’s only 16 species out of the 262 covered in the book so I’ve still got 246 more to go!

I’ve posted  about Rufous-backed Robin before: from the Gilbert Water RanchBoyce Thompson Arboretum, and Anthem north of Phoenix. And about Northern Jacana. And even about Baikel Teal.

But I can’t find any previous posts about the Streak-backed Oriole that returned for three winters at the Gilbert Water Ranch, so here are some of my favorite shots of that bird.

Streak-backed Oriole

Streak-backed Oriole

11/24/2005, Nikon D70, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 200, 1/250th sec @ f/10

Streak-backed Oriole

Streak-backed Oriole

11/24/2005, Nikon D70, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 200, 1/200th sec @ f/10

Streak-backed Oriole

Streak-backed Oriole

12/25/2006, Nikon D70, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 200, 1/100th sec @ f/9

Streak-backed Oriole

Streak-backed Oriole

10/21/2007, Nikon D200, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/400th sec @ f/8

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6 Comments »

  1. I remember the Streak-backed Oriole fondly, one of the very few Arizona birds I’ve been in a position to chase and then actually found. And your photos are much better than mine. The same length of lense and teleconverter; you’re just a superior stalker, I think.

    Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — February 11, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

  2. absolutely gorgeous bird shots!

    Comment by lilmisspoutine — February 11, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  3. Thank you Rich, for your book review:)! I just ordered it, and can’t wait to get it in the house…

    You are ahead of me (of course), but the Streak-backed Oriole was a yard bird for me:)!

    Comment by Marceline — February 11, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  4. Jim:

    Don’t discount that I’m here and spent a lot of time at The Ranch walking around looking for it. I missed it more times than I found it.

    Comment by richditch — February 11, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

  5. Yes, it was. And I remember the Wood Thrush that also visited your back yard (and that I got to see there).

    Comment by richditch — February 11, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

  6. Wow, Rich, those are fantastic! I think that was the bird — the very individual — that made me go to the Water Ranch for the first time, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Thanks for putting these up.

    Comment by Rick Wright — February 12, 2014 @ 6:58 am


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