Book: Birds in Place

The writing of Radd Icenoggle, in Birds In Place, is the highlight of this informative book. Consider "… a grebe trying to become an elegant swan describes the Western Grebe…" or “… the altitude-intensified sun pushes down on me, and young White-crowned Sparrows forage among the rocks.” It's phrases, and perspectives, like these that make reading his book a pleasure. He also includes the standard abbreviated, descriptive text common to most field guides.

Most field guides are organized in a taxonomic fashion, using evolutionary relationships to arrange species. But Birds In Place is not just about bird identification. This is a guide to which birds you can expect to occur in a variety of described habitats. To break such "bird guide" tradition, and to present an entirely new perspective, is admirable. By thinking habitat, we are made aware of interrelationships and ecology. We're taught to be more comprehensive observers.

Icenoggle also includes interesting aspects regarding the natural history of bird species. Using icons, illustrations, excellent photos, text, and maps, the book summarizes information relating to species identification, habitat association, seasonal abundance, feeding behavior and preferences, and range. Much of the text provides detailed information relating to behavior, courtship and nesting, and variations in habitat use.

If all this isn't enough, consider reading some of the seven bird-related essays. Informative and well written, they blend well with the habitat descriptions to familiarize us more fully with the avian world.

The book does have some physical flaws. The icons and habitat illustrations are small and somewhat hard to interpret. I would appreciate actually printing the habitat type on each bird page, so as to reinforce the description and recognition of habitat characteristics. Farcountry Press has published some great stuff, but this book does suffer from a lack of editing. I found quite a few typographical errors, and even some inefficient phraseology.

Regardless, the experience, information, and words shine through and I find this a successful break with tradition.