The Bottom Line
The idea of finding birds is so simple that it is often overlooked in birding books and field guides, or relegated to only a paragraph or two in an introduction with barely more acknowledgement than the fact that birds are out there to be seen. Not so with The Art of Bird Finding. Author Pete Dunne brings his more than 50 years of experience birding, leading birding tours and working with the New Jersey Audubon to readers with this deceptively small, conversational book that is crowded with tips, information and insights. No matter how long readers have been birding, they will be amazed at what this book has to teach them about finding birds.
- First comprehensive book dedicated solely to finding birds in any season, any habitat and any range.
- Easy conversational tone, clear writing and anecdotes are ideal for both novice and experienced birders to learn from.
- Photos reinforce and illustrate important bird-finding tips.
- Lacks a guide to choosing bird finding tools such as birding binoculars or field guides, but simultaneously acknowledges that many books on those topics are already available.
- Lacks a listing of popular hotspots for finding birds, but teaches readers to find their own local hotspots through understanding birds' needs and motivations.
- Occasionally self-promoting when recommending supplementary resources without including other authors with equally valuable work.
- Title: The Art of Bird Finding: Before You ID Them, You Have to See Them
- Author: Pete Dunne
- Publisher: Stackpole Books
- Publication Date: July 2011
- Format: Softcover
- Page Count: 96
- ISBN: 978-0-8117-0896-8
- Price: $14.95
Review - The Art of Bird Finding
Every birder thinks they know just how to find birds, yet every birder has spent frustrating hours in the field without spotting a single feather. In The Art of Bird Finding, Pete Dunne shares his expert insights to finding birds in a humorous and entertaining style, with a conversational tone that is easy to read. Though slim at fewer than 100 pages, this book covers the details of finding birds from a variety of angles, including:
- How birds' daily activities help birders predict their locations
- How geography and landforms direct bird traffic
- How birds' locations change seasonally, including migration patterns
- How climate, storms and weather patterns change where birds are
- How one bird's behavior can be used to find additional birds
Dunne uses a variety of personal examples from his own birding experiences to illustrate the general concepts of bird finding, and while there are no resource lists that are applicable to birders everywhere, his examples teach readers how to draw their own conclusions to find birds locally. For birders who don't believe they can be as skilled, Dunne offers reassurances by discussing how human senses are designed in fantastic ways that birders can harness. While "in twenty-first-century America, most people's birding skills wouldn't do credit to a day-old duckling," Dunne encourages readers to try "expanding your awareness, not focusing it" in order to better see the birding world around them.
Much of what Dunne teaches readers can be applied universally, but he doesn't avoid special considerations for certain types of birds and birding. Limited sections on hawk watching and pelagic birding trips offer excellent tips for those specialized types of birding, and migration, as the hottest birding time of year, also has more extensive treatment.
With regards to field practices when trying to find birds, Dunne discusses the ethics of pishing and the use of recorded bird song both to find birds as well as to lure found birds into a better viewing position. Proper birding clothing, when to not use binoculars and other best bird finding practices all find good attention from Dunne.
While all bird finding advice can be distilled down to "go slow, pause often, watch the birdy," The Art of Bird Finding clearly illustrates how much more involved finding birds can be. As Dunne concludes, "now you see them, now you don't … For now, your challenge is to be aware." By becoming more aware of birds and the many factors that affect where those birds are, birders can easily learn to find birds wherever and whenever they wish.