A Californian's Guide to the Birds Among Us: 07/17/22
A Californian's Guide to the Birds Among Us by Charles Hood is a short focused guide on the most typical birds one will find in California. It's aimed at the novice birder, one who is birding as a sideline to other things: hiking, walking, taking photographs, etc.
By birding book standards, this book is short. It's 168 pages, although if you read it as an ebook, as I did, the photographs balloon the book up to about 360 pages. But the text is light and to the point.
One thing this book does that other guides doesn't do is include photos to show similar colored or shaped birds that a novice might get confused. The text then explains how and why the species are different: what to look for or when to look for it if the changes are seasonal.
Another great thing about the photographs is they show the California (or west coast) variations. For instance, the dark-eyed junco, which is solid gray on top and solid white on the underside everywhere else, is brown with a gray head along the west coast. The vast majority of birding books are focused on what happens east of the Sierra Nevadas or even east of the Rockies, meaning they are often less than useful for novice California birders.
Finally, though, the charm of the book lies in its text. There's a cheeky humor to how the books are described. The house sparrow for instance includes a quote from Gerald Stern that calls them "a bit of a schnorrer." That off the cuff observation gave me a laughing fit for about twenty minutes, but there are gems like this for each bird.