Bay Nature magazineFall 2008


Book Review: Breeding Bird Atlas of Santa Clara County, California

October 1, 2008

by William G. Bousman, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, 2007, 547 pages, $40.00. Available at

Part natural/regional history guide, part atlas, part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, Bousman’s Atlas is a compendious guide to all things feathered in Santa Clara County. The size of a college textbook, this isn’t something you’ll be tucking in your back pocket.

Instead, take time to pore over it at home, going through the breeding season windows, local place names, historical and introduced species lists, maps of annual rainfall, drainage basins, geology, vegetation communities, breeding status, phenology, and–whew!–population trends. And don’t be intimidated; each of the 177 species accounts–authored by one of several contributors–is treated in a conversational yet informative way, consisting of well-researched text covering the bird’s natural history and scientific discovery, a handsome black-and-white illustration, and easy-to-read maps and figures. There’s even a bonus history chapter that tackles everything from early Bay Area ornithologists to the era of oology (the study of eggs) to the birth of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.

About the Author

Matthew Bettelheim is a freelance writer and a wildlife biologist with URS Corporation.

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