Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Birds of Washington, Part II

I am excited: my copy of Birds of Washington FINALLY arrived in my mailbox today -- and this is a good thing, too, because I have been making the postal peeps crazy with my daily requests to look for a box with my name on it. It was very fun to stand there in my post office in Neeeeww Yawwwk City, my hands wrapped around the box, saying "This is MY BOOK! I wrote it!" to the postman after he handed it to me. Several other people heard me, too, which pleased me greatly.

Okay, I took some liberties by saying "I wrote it" but who cares? I wrote some of it, but the postal peeps weren't interested in the details; they just wanted me to go away and stop bothering them about my box.

Birds of Washington is the book I told you about in a previous blog entry. My first glance through the book makes me very happy and proud to be part of this project. This book is the first complete reference work on Washington's birds to be published in more than fifty years. This comprehensive volume includes individual accounts of the 483 species recorded in that state, of which I wrote only 20 (14, actually). I wrote accounts about common species in Washington state; all of the wrens, chickadees, waxwings and the rufous and calliope hummingbirds (I think those are all the species that I wrote about, but it HAS been a few years (five-ish?), five relocations and one legal name change since I finished all those species accounts!). Even though my name is nowhere on the cover (I was only a volunteer contributor), my correct name does appear after all my species accounts (thanks for taking care of that, Terry!).

This book is not a field guide, but it is a very valuable reference book. As such, it contains range maps and bar graphs that describe the seasonal occurrence of each species, a 250 word species account as well as habitat preferences, seasonal activities, apparent trends and changes in occurrence or abundance, the occurrence of subspecies, and any management or conservation issues, descriptions of geographic movements, including records of both unusual numbers and unusual geographic/temporal sightings. Many accounts are accompanied by a drawing of the bird. The book is packed with citations because, as I can vouch for my own species accounts; every sentence in each species account is supported by at least one, and often more than one, referenced report from a wide range of sources, including scientific journals, wildlife agency reports, field observations, and surveys such as Christmas Bird Counts and Breeding Bird Surveys.

The unique but much-needed aspect of Birds of Washington is that it correlates changes in avian populations to the effects of growing human populations, habitat modifications and natural events, and identifies current threats such as forest practices, farming, fishing, irrigation, and waste management.

If you live in Washington and have any appreciation whatsoever for birds (whether you have only one birdfeeder on your porch or you routinely go on extended birding trips), if you are a birder who wishes to visit Washington state or if you simply love birds and wish to know more about them, then this is the book for you. Birds of Washington will make a fine addition to any serious birder's library and is interesting to just about everyone for a variety of reasons. Simply looking through this book makes me incredibly homesick and I LOVE NYC; imagine how much worse I'd feel if I was stuck in a place that I hated. (In fact, if I was stuck in a yucky part of the country, this book would be the last straw; I'd pack up this very weekend and move back home to beautiful Seattle).

Also note that I do not receive even one penny for saying these things about this book (I wish I did, I sure could use them!). I am simply enjoying the book as if I was still living in lovely Seattle, planning and getting ready for a nice spring weekend of birding in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

My sincerest thanks to the editors, Terry Wahl (my primary contact for the project), and Bill Tweit and Steve Mlodinow for sheparding this book through the seemingly neverending editing, "finishing" and publication process. Without them, this project would not have happened.

By the way, has anyone seen the long-billed curlews that hang out in the cow pasture just off I-243 (near Beverly) on the the east side side of the Columbia River (also near Yakima/Ellensburg)? That trip is worth making because you also can see sandhill cranes, American avocets and long-necked stilts on the same trip! If you get lucky, you'll also see a bobcat or two in that area.

[Incidentally, I have news for the postal peeps; I am expecting another box with three books in it any day now! And these are books that you, dear readers, will learn more about any day too, because they are part of a surprise I have in store for you. Yes, I am full of surprises these days, aren't I?]


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

3 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Tabor said...

Congratulations...big time. You have a right to be proud. I will look for your book.

7:52 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Ask your local bookstore to order a copy for you! Even if you decide not to buy it, you can still look through it and I am sure that someone else will want to buy the book. It is published by Oregon State University Press, May 2005.

Incidentally, I am trying to scan a species account to display on my blog. I am having trouble with Photoshop .. it saves the file in an unreadable format regardless of which format I choose, so I cannot upload the image onto Flickr. I have to wait until Monday so I can ask someone here how to fix that image so I can post it here.


9:29 AM  
Blogger P.M.Bryant said...

Congratulations! I'll definitely look for that book when I get to Washington, which I suspect may be farily soon, since it seems that half our friends are moving there this year.

11:30 AM  

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