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Book review: Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Saturday, February 4, 2012 

Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America -- by Steve N.G. Howell

I'm going to keep this review short and sweet...there is no reason to go on and on. First, I'm not an expert on seabirds, and second, the following is all you need to know:

This latest endeavor by Steve Howell: Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America (Princeton University Press) is amazing!!!! The guide is as comprehensive and thorough as it can be. It takes years and years (a lifetime) of study and work to gain the knowledge and photographs to complete a work such as this, and we are lucky to have Steve Howell around to share this insight. Mr. Howell treats each species status, flight style, distribution, plumage, molt, etc. clearly and concisely. The captions fit nicely with the chosen photos and, even though I am not as well versed in the groups of birds covered in this guide as I am with others, I can see and figure out for myself that the information is spot-on. The choice of photos is excellent, Most are beautiful plumage and shape representations, and the selected photos that show birds in fog, poor light, or at odd angles are necessary for the reasons described.

This book is fairly large, but it has to be to cover the extent of variation among species and related information discussed within. Quite frankly, Mr. Howell did a wonderful job by not presenting even more information. I'm sure he edited several things to keep the book digestable and keep it from overwhelming readers...a "necessary evil" in publishing. It would be difficult to use a general book this size as a field guide, but this book is very doable on a pelagic trip, and even more valuable as a reference guide.

The Introduction is valuable in itself, don't miss out on reading it before delving into the book. In short, I have only good things to say about this book, and feel it is critical to own for anyone who studies birds and petrels, albatrosses, and storm-petrels in particular.

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Blogger Bryce said...

On your recommendation, I may just have to add this to my library. This book seems like a truly incredible undertaking. Thanks for passing along the wisdom Jerry.


February 7, 2012 at 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Bryce

Thanks, hope you see lots of birds where you are

February 7, 2012 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

If you have read any of Howell's other guides I am sure this is a must have as are his books on molt, gulls, and birding Mexico. I guess I need to hop online and order this one:

You can pick it up here...

Thanks for the review Jerry!

February 8, 2012 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Glad to see this is out, thanks Jerry! Just purchased! Met Steve on a North Carolina pelagic a few years ago while he was doing research for the book. He was assisting as a guide, going out on nearly every trip that season. Friendly, patient, enthusiastic--was a lot of fun to learn from him.

February 8, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger ABranch said...

Just the book I need. Its in my cart! Thanks for the review.

February 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks for the comments, not a detailed review of the content, layout, etc. but it is a well-detailed, amazing account

February 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM  

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