Next comes the "Side Quick Finder," facing page side views of all the warblers. Then comes the "45 Degree View Quick Finder." I rarely see warblers at eye level from the side, so this helps identify birds from a lower perspective. And when a hard-to-see warbler perches directly overhead, I'll turn to the "Under View Quick Finder." These images show the underside of each species.
Because the under-tail patterns are distinctive for many species, two pages are devoted to comparing confusing under-tail patterns of both eastern and western species.
Finally, 16 pages compare the vocalizations of all the warblers. See on paper the graphical differences among clear, buzzy, and complex sounds. The publisher promises that a companion audio package is available separately at www.thewarblerguide.com.
Whew! That takes us through the introduction to the heart of "The Warbler Guide," the species accounts -- 373 pages devoted to 56 species of warblers. The yellow warbler account, for example, covers 10 pages and includes 33 color photos of yellow warblers of both sexes and various ages. Throw in nine more photos of similar species and four pages of sonograms, and you'll get the idea of the thoroughness of this identification guide.
After the species accounts come accounts of similar non-warbler species such as kinglets, gnatcatchers, vireos, and sparrows. And, when you start feeling confident, turn to "Quiz and Review" and "Warblers in Flight" for a dose of reality.
There's never been an ID guide quite like this one. It's as if the publisher told the authors to produce a book on warbler identification that includes everything a birder might ever need.
But don't be misled by my enthusiasm for "The Warbler Guide." It will not make identifying warblers easy, it just makes it possible. It's still up to birders to find, see, and hear the birds before they turn to this remarkable ID guide.
Contact Dr. Shalaway via email at sshala...@aol.com or 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.