American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York

High praise for bird book


Northern Parula
Photo by Brian E. Small

Beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated, the American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York covers 285 of the 485 bird species recorded in the state, and it includes a complete checklist of all the species ever seen, including those that have gone extinct or are sighted extremely rarely.

The book strikes me as an excellent guide for beginning and moderately experienced birders, a casual, well-written hybrid of a field/where-to-see-birds guide. Born in Saugerties and now living in Queens, Corey Finger knows New York State well. His book includes thirty-eight pages of introductory material, including a ten-page gazetteer of birding hot spots organized by month. He recommends, for example, visiting Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area in March, Bloomingdale Bog in June, and Ferd’s Bog near Inlet in July, stressing that all these places are well worth a visit at other times of year.

American Birding
Association Field
Guide to Birds of
New York
By Corey Finger
Photographs by
Brian E. Small
Scott & Nix, 2016
384 pages, $24.95

The author doesn’t attempt to describe how to get to the places he suggests, no doubt because any interested reader could easily and quickly find out on the internet. Nor does he get unnecessarily detailed in his description of each bird species, preferring, in his words to give “the overall impression the bird gives, followed by seasonal occurrence, habitat, and distribution in the state.”

The text has a casual, chatty, armchair quality to it, and I found myself quite a few times extremely impressed with Finger’s relaxed and easy erudition. In his entry about the boreal chickadee, for example, he quickly and correctly tells you where to look for the bird, and a little footnote in the photograph provides a few concise but spot-on sentences about the bird’s appearance and behavior.

Northern Flicker
Photo by Brian E. Small

I have one major criticism of the text: it distracted me from Brian E. Small’s gorgeous photographs of birds in their natural habitats. The photos work perfectly with the text, and as an added visual bonus, the front endpapers feature a beautiful map of New York State with an excellent selection of some of the more important hot spots noted.