Enjoying Birds Around New York
by Robert S. Arbid Jr., by Olin Sewall Pettingill Jr., by Sally Hoyt Spofford
Cornell University, Laboratory of Ornithology, Houghton Mifflin, 171 pp., $4.50
Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
by Chandler S. Robbins, by Bertel Bruun, by Herbert S. Zim, Illustrated in color by Arthur Singer
Golden Press, 340 pp., $2.95
The Birds of New Zealand: A Field Guide
by R.A. Falla, by R.B. Sibson, by E G. Turbott, Illustrated in color and line drawings by Chloë Talbot-Kelly
Houghton Mifflin, 254 pp., $6.95
The three little volumes which are listed above all have the same object in view: To enable a wider public to get to know the birds among which they live. Those who in their early years become bird enthusiasts will always have an interest and occupation, even if compelled by circumstance to live in a city like New York.
The first thing an intending purchaser will remark when picking up Enjoying Birds Around New York City is the excellence of its layout, the pleasing picture on the jacket, and the splendid way the pages open flat. There are a great many books on birds being turned out today on both sides of the Atlantic, reflecting an enormously increased interest in ornithology. Enjoying Birds Around New York is likely to increase that interest still more. It is beautifully printed on a coated but lightweight paper which permits the setting of the delightful vignettes in the margin of the text, and there are seventeen clearly drawn full-page maps. The work nevertheless runs to only 171 pages, and while its dimensions, approximately 9 1/4 × 6 inches, will not permit its being carried in the pocket of an ordinary suit, it is so light in weight (under fifteen ounces) that little inconvenience will be occasioned when carrying it about.
This is a companion volume to Enjoying Birds in Upstate New York—by two of the three authors of the new work. The names of the authors of the book under review, Dr. Olin S. Pettingill, Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, his Administrative Assistant Sally Hoyt Spofford, and Robert S. Arbid, onetime President of the Linnaean Society of New York, are sufficient guarantee of the excellence and accuracy of the text.
The first eight pages are devoted to preliminary advice to the bird watcher, such as how to recognize and watch birds, how to distinguish the various categories—permanent residents, summer residents, migrants, and vagrants—into which birds are divided; how to recognize their habitat preferences, and how to classify birds by families and then to identify the species. Various aids in this direction are given. The main part of this book falls into two parts. In the first section, illustrated with marginal line drawings by Orville O. Rice—the best which this reviewer can remember having seen for some time—eighty species are discussed, each with its own charming vignette, field description notes, and points to look out for; food and mode of feeding; usual habitat and, occasionally for the resident species, brief description of nests and eggs.
Here we find, among the non-passerine species, the common loon and horned grebe, three representatives of the heron family, a swan and a goose and six species of duck, four hawks, the introduced pheasant, the clapper rail, and a coot. There are fewer shore birds in this category than a stranger to the area might expect, only six being named in this popular family—but there must be many others during the season …