A Well timed Traditional – 10,000 Birds

It’s hawk migration time once more in North America, time to as soon as once more college ourselves within the artwork of figuring out distant silhouettes and remembering the distinction between a glide and a soar and a glide-wing flap-glide. My ebook of alternative for this time of yr is Jerry Liguori’s Hawks At A Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors, a superb tutorial on learn how to acknowledge raptors by form and flight model, distilling years of expertise and experience into 216 pages. Hawks At A Distance was one of many first books I reviewed for 10,000 Birds and I’ve determined to rerun it this month, partly to remind us all to learn and use it, and partly as a result of I’m getting ready for a birding journey in a foreign country and I want all my mind energy to ensure I pack the correct digicam lenses and hats. (Hey, I did evaluation two books final month!)

Additionally, I’m considering of Jerry Liguori himself, who died after a 5 and a half yr battle with ALS in December 2021. I by no means met Jerry, however I corresponded with him about his books and he commented on this evaluation, saying, “Thanks, it was so good to learn and to see that you simply and others take pleasure in my books!….I really like instructing and spending time with folks desperate to study. And I’m nonetheless studying. So, the curiosity expressed right here in watching with me is a good praise. Glad Hawk watching.” Along with Hawks At A Distance, Jerry Liguori wrote a complementary information, Hawks from Each Angle: Tips on how to Establish Raptors In Flight (PUP, 2005) and was a co-author (with Richard Crossley and Brian L. Sullivan) of The Crossley ID Information Raptors (PUP, 2013).

Additionally, a notice that on this evaluation I point out that I had by no means learn Hawks in Flight, by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton. This was remedied in 2012, when I reviewed the second version. We’re actually wealthy in raptor identification and pure historical past books. And video sources. At a current Queens County Hen Membership assembly, hawk skilled Josh Haas illustrated his presentation on migrating hawk identification with movies of hawk species on a cut up display, so we might see the variations between, let’s say, a flying Purple-tailed Hawk and a flying Broad-winged Hawk. The footage was from his new video information Hawks on the Wing. I haven’t seen the entire video but, but it surely seems to be promising.

The Assessment:

I confess, I don’t all the time love hawks.  Positive, they’re stunning and highly effective, a reminder of the feral freedom of the skies. They’re additionally confoundingly tough to determine, the everlasting inscrutable spot within the distance.  That is in all probability why I quantity so many hawk books in my assortment.

There’s the slim Hawk Watch: At Information for Newcomers, purchased on my first go to to the Cape Could hawk watch, the traditional A Discipline Information to North American Hawks, a part of the Peterson Discipline Information sequence, the useful Hawks & Owls of the Nice Lakes Area & Japanese North America, with its photographic comparability charts. (For some purpose, I by no means purchased the traditional Hawks in Flight, by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton.)  And, there are the non-field information hawk books, the narratives that learn like love songs to raptors and the massive espresso desk books, presents from non-birding pals.

So, wanting a Jerry Liguori’s latest publication, Hawks At A Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors (Princeton College Press, 2011), I ask myself, “Why? Why one other hawk ebook?”

Liguori wrote Hawks At A Distance to fill a spot in raptor identification literature; he wished to indicate birders learn how to determine distance hawks in flight, in migration, within the area, utilizing pictures taken in “actual life” settings. He’s nicely certified to jot down such a ebook. Liguori has performed raptor migration counts at main U.S. hawkwatch websites, and has written articles on hawk identification for the American Birding Affiliation and the Utah Birders weblog. He’s the THE go-to particular person for hawk identification.  He’s additionally the creator of my present favourite hawk ebook, Hawks From Each Angle: How To Establish Raptors In Flight (PUP, 2005).

On the coronary heart of Hawks At A Distance are 558 shade pictures, most organized as shade plate composites evaluating totally different variations of the identical chicken.  Right here is likely one of the three plates for American Kestrel.

American Kestrels in Flight, plate AK03; © 2011 Princeton College Press

There are pictures of buteos hovering overhead and harriers gliding low, of eagles coming at you head-on and flying away with solely the tail in focus, of falcons backlit and kites in shadows.  I used to be a bit of overwhelmed after I first opened the ebook, until I noticed that every {photograph} has a objective, illustrating the totally different types or colours a raptor can take within the air.  The variety of plates per species varies, which makes quite a lot of sense.  There are 2 plates for Turkey Vulture and 13 plates for Purple-tailed Hawk.

Like The Crossley ID Information, the pictures work finest when used with the textual content. Liguori give a succinct “Overview” and “Plumage” description for every group (accipiter, buteo, and so on.) and every species, delineating flight patterns, flight shapes, and all plumage variations (and if you happen to thought you knew all of them, you could be shocked.)

A very powerful figuring out traits are in daring print, a function I discover enormously useful.  So, I study that kestrels seem “dainty, slim general, and energetic and nimble in flight” however “can seem darkish beneath on overcast days.”  All of the little clues that hawk watchers have gathered through the years, all the main points obligatory to differentiate a kestrel from a Merlin, a Sharpie from a Cooper’s, are within the quantity.  Twenty-nine raptor species are coated (no owls): twenty frequent migrant hawks and 9 further “Unusual Migrants and Others.”

Golden Eagle in flight, plate GE 03; © 2011 Princeton College Press

The photographic plates and commentary take raptor identification to a stage of extraordinarily positive element which may be unprecedented. In Golden Eagle plate 03 (left) we study that “over snow, grownup remiges could seem considerably whitish (center proper)” and that “when shadowed or in a glide, Golden Eagles may be inconceivable to age (backside left)”.  This may be intimidating to birders like me, who’re hawk identification challenged.  However the fantastic thing about Hawks At A Distance is that you could drill down by means of the totally different ranges of textual content, taking in as a lot element as you’ll be able to deal with at your stage.

I like to recommend studying the “Introduction”, which defines phrases like “remiges” (“secondaries and primaries”), and the final chapter, “Shapes”, wherein multitudinous silhouettes (30-52) are introduced for every of the 20 main species.  I’m a giant silhouette fan.  They assist me concentrate on construction and never get distracted by plumage which, I now know, can differ relying on intercourse, age, mild, climate, and angle.

All in all, this is a superb, compact information that properly enhances Hawks From Each Angle.  Put the 2 books collectively and also you get the raptor identification information of each hawk watcher’s goals.  The one criticism I’ve is that I need extra!  I need extra on Quick-tailed Hawk, one of many unusual migrants given briefer therapy.  I need companion movies, exhibiting the flight patterns in motion.  I need Jerry Liguori to come back east and do a hawk watch with me.

Each books are printed by Princeton College Press, which suggests the binding and paper are of excessive, sturdy high quality, and that the colour pictures are nicely printed.  (Lots of the full-page pictures are beautiful in their very own proper, not solely as instructing instruments.)  Each books are priced very moderately in paperback format (see beneath).

I nonetheless don’t all the time love hawks.  However I’m fairly keen on each Liguori guides, and dream of the time I can have a look at that speck within the sky and say, “Massive accipiter, highly effective flight, stiff wingbeats–Northern Goshawk!”

I’m interested in your experiences with these guides or different hawk books (or apps) within the area.  Which information labored finest for you?  Which ebook do you retain in your automotive throughout hawk migration season?  And, in an ideal raptor world, which hawk information creator would you select to spend a day hawk watching with?

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors, by Jerry Liguori, with a foreword by Pete Dunne
Princeton College Press, 2011.  216 pp., 6 x 8.5 in.
ISBN-10 : 0691135592; ISBN-13 : 978-0691135595
Paper $19.95; Kindle $9.99


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