Latest revision of guide book proves a valuable birdwatching tool

A new edition of “Birds of the Puget Sound Region — Coast to Cascades” is available.
A new edition of “Birds of the Puget Sound Region — Coast to Cascades” is available. Courtesy

Having reached the heart of summer means that vacation plans are well underway. Even if travel isn’t in the immediate future, more time will be spent in our yards, local parks and other favorite outdoor places. This means the possibility of seeing some new birds is on the horizon.

Having a good bird book adds to the fun. “What is a good local bird book?” That is one of the most asked questions this column receives. A new book, or rather a rewrite of an old favorite, has just been released. “Birds of the Puget Sound Region — Coast to Cascades” is great.

Bob Morse spearheaded the first edition of this title. Along with Tom Aversa and Hal Opperman, they published “Birds of the Puget Sound Region.” That was 13 years ago and it has been reprinted 13 times. This new edition expands what was originally an excellent field guide for the birds in Western Washington.

Another voice has been added to the group of well-known and respected birders. Dennis Paulson, author of nine natural history books and someone recognized as a master birder educator, has rewritten and updated the book’s text. This new edition is larger than the original because it contains more photographs and more information.

The photographs are mostly from Brian E. Small’s collection, but other bird photographers also have contributed some of their best work. The quality of more than 450 photos is what you want in a bird book. There are 270 new ones. I was happy to see the tufted puffin illustrated by a beautiful photo. The original guide hadn’t included this species, which is found on the northern coast and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There are more than sixty additional species in this new edition.

Other changes that make this book attractive include the map on the inside front cover. It unfolds and is larger than what was in the first edition. This was necessary because this guide expands the region covered. The additional “flap” that allows this larger map makes a good page marker. You don’t have to keep your finger in the pages for the bird you are studying. When a new species is seen, it isn’t uncommon to try and study the bird and compare it with its illustration at the same time. This enlarged map that is also a bookmark is a welcome addition.

Each species, in addition to a color photograph, has a written description on the page opposite the photograph. The information provided covers details of the bird’s appearance and any similar species it may be mistaken for. Its status within the region the book covers may be common, uncommon or seasonal. The type of habitat it is found in is also given. Details about its behavior or what it sounds like make this book an interesting read even when you aren’t actively birding.

This guide, like its predecessor, includes a question (and the answer) about each bird. For example: “Did you know? Great horned owls are powerful, fearless hunters. They have been recorded killing and eating animals as large as great blue herons and skunks.” This feature is sure to be popular with young and mature birders equally.

At a trim 4 inches by 6 inches in size, this guide easily fits in a pocket, pack or purse and makes a great companion wherever you travel and bird. It retails for $19.95 and was published by the R.W. Morse Company, Olympia.

Write to Joan Carson at P.O. Box 217, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Or send an email to joanpcarson@comcast.net