Introduction to California Birdlife, by Jules Evens and Ian Tait, University of California Press, 2005, 382 pages, $16.95 paperback, $45.00 hardcover
Don’t reach for this book hoping to immediately identify birds at the bird feeder. Think of it as a natural history guide for those amateur and aspiring birders who want to learn their birds before they leave the house. Heading off to Point Reyes? The chapter on birds of the shoreline will familiarize you with the whimbrels and turnstones of the seashore. Vacationing in the Sierras? The chapter on birds of the mountains and foothills will show you where the chickadees and thrushes common to woodlands will be found. These and five other California bioregions—ocean, coastal ranges, Central Valley, Great Basin, and desert—and their constituent habitat types are described in detail to help you prepare for the birds you’re bound to encounter. Although this isn’t your standard field guide—there are no range maps or phonetic ,killy killy killy, voice-identifiers—photographer Ian Tait’s images are razor sharp, capturing birds in flight or in everyday behaviors. Seasoned biologist and writer Jules Evens walks readers through each habitat’s nooks and crannies, easing the novice into confidently reading the landscape and predicting what lives there.