Raptors of California, by Hans and Pam Peeters, University of California Press, 2005, 305 pages, $17.95
Here in California, we are fortunate to have 27 species of raptors, a designation that includes eagles, hawks, and falcons. It’s not unusual for folks in the Bay Area to spot a red-tailed hawk perched atop a roadside utility pole or peregrine falcons hunting among the skyscrapers high above the busy streets of the Financial District. The new University of California Press field guide Raptors of California provides the amateur bird enthusiast with a wonderful introduction to the world of these fascinating birds. While the guide focuses mainly on California species, it also provides the reader with a comprehensive discussion of the natural history of raptors across North America.
Raptors of California offers excellent tips, techniques, and tricks for straightforward bird identification. But it does more than that: The husband-and-wife team of Hans and Pam Peeters write in a light-handed but comprehensive style that engages the reader with creative analogies and humorous anecdotes.
The guide contains 12 full-page color plates to help identify birds in the wild, at rest, or in flight. For each species, information is given on size, distribution, feeding ecology, breeding ecology, and conservation status. There are plenty of color photographs demonstrating the diversity of raptor habitats found in California as well as a number of beautiful specimen illustrations. Notable is a chapter focusing on the relationship between humans and raptors, including descriptions of how captive-breeding and reintroduction programs have helped to increase populations of several California raptor species.
Whether you are interested in learning about raptor anatomy, foraging, reproduction, where and how to observe raptors, raptor conservation, endangered species, or caring for injured hawks, you will find the answers here.