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Hawaii's Birds [Paperback]

Hawaii Audubon Society


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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 2005 edition is available 30 Mar 2007
By Sho - Published on Amazon.com
Here's my review of the 2005 (6th) edition.

+ Easier to use than previous edition, better photos and color register
- Some photos omitted from previous edition were helpful for identification, still some disorganization

[...]

This new edition is a great improvement over the 5th. Entries cover 141 species and subspecies. Birds are still organized by habitat, but page headers and color coding make finding a bird much quicker, which is useful for field identification. Symbols showing endemic, indigenous, alien, visitor, and endangered species are clearer. The endemic bird list and distribution maps have been updated, as have references and descriptions (for example, this edition notes the split of the African Silverbill [Lonchura cantans] from the Warbling Silverbill [Lonchura malabarica]). Each entry includes 1-2 photos (many of higher quality than in thge previous edition), the common name, Hawaiian name, genus and species (plus subspecies where relevant), distribution, description, voice, and habits. The "voice" and "habits" sections are especially helpful for differentiating between birds of similar habitat and appearance. A collection of island maps in the back provide a quick reference for common birds.

Although the color-coded tabs make the book much more usable, it's still not clear what determined the order in which birds appear within each section. It is the same as in the 5th edition and is not alphabetical by common name, Hawaiian name, or genus; it also is not in order of relative frequency. While I appreciate most of the new photos, and particulatly those of juveniles, some omissions are puzzling. For example, the 5th edition had a nice photo of a White-tailed Tropicbird from above, showing the black markings on its wings that help differentiate it from the Red-tailed Tropicbird when it is at a distance and the tail color can't be seen. This was especially useful since viewing opportunities at Kilauea Point and Waimea Canyon are often fom overhead and at a distance. The 5th edition also included a facing page photo of an immature Red-tailed Tropicbird, illustrating the description of "heavy black barring on upperparts" (5th ed., p. 16). This photo is omitted from the 6th edition. Thus, there is now a notation of the juvenile Red-tail's "heavy black barring" and the adult White-tail's "black marks on wings and back" but no photo of either to guide the reader. Since the text notes that a third species, the Red-billed Tropicbird, has recently been seen at Kiluea Point, and that it has "heavily barred upperparts," the identification is muddier still for those not already familiar with the three species.

If I were in charge of the the 7th edition, I would organize each section by main color or by most-to-least common, include a photo of an immature bird when this aids differentiation, include a colored notation by each bird identifying the islands on which it is found (to supplement the text and the endemic checklist in the back), and move birds presumed to be extinct or exceptionally rare to a new section.

This field guide is useful for quick identifications of the expected birds; less so for visitors. It has the virtue of large photos and is small enough to carry easily. For more comprehensive coverage, spring the $45 for Pratt et al.'s A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Yes, it's woefully out of date (it was last revised in 1987), but it provides illustrations of juvenieles and adults of both sexes, side-by-side species, and a broader geographic range. Pratt's newer Enjoying Birds and Other Wildlife in Hawai'i (revised 2002) is light on bird photos but heavy on viewing sites, species lists, and information. It includes military bases and atolls; you can't get there from here but it's still interesting to know. It could be heavier on "other wildlife" (a 4-page sop rather than a real focus; on my last trip I saw butterflies, other insects, an amphibian, a reptile, and a nice big spider that aren't represented here).

Of the 141 birds represented in the Audubon book, we saw 40-41 (one identification still pending) in 4 days this month, one at the airport on O'ahu, the others on Kaua'i at Kilauea Point NWR, Hanalei NWR, Waimea Canyon SP, Koke'e SP, Alaka'i Wilderness and along the Kuhio and Kaumuali'i highways, as well as outside the hotel.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Pictures 20 April 2006
By Erika Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
This small booklet provides a useable introduction to birds that can be seen in Hawaii. It is organized by habitat, with sections for marine birds, water birds, urban birds, upland birds, and forest birds. It covers native birds, endemic birds, and recently introduced birds. In general, each bird is described in a short article that includes an illustration, the common name, the scientific name, and notes on distribution, physical description, calls, and behavior. Birds that are endangered or rare are specifically identified as such. End material includes a lists of endemic birds by family, introduced birds, migratory birds, selected references, suggested places for birding (with maps) and an index. The book is illustrated mostly with color photographs, along with pen and ink drawings or water color paintings in some instances.

The book is short enough that it doesn't require a key to use (which is fortunate, since it doesn't have one.) It covers most of the common birds that can be seen in the islands, as well as well-known rare or possibly extinct Hawaiian birds. One bird that is commonly seen in Volcano National Park is the Kalij Pheasant, but this bird does not appear in the book for some reason. Note: a great place to see nenes is in the parking lot of Kulanaokuaiki campground on Hilina Pali Road in the National Park on rainy mornings (that is, just about any day). But be sure to wear shoes instead of sandals, or this endangered species may sustain itself by nibbling on your toes, contrary to park rules about feeding the nene.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Available; Great for Travelers 26 Feb 2007
By Roadrunner - Published on Amazon.com
E. Mitchell has very nicely summarized the content of the book. I'd just add that, having looked at two or three bird guides covering Hawaii, this is the best of them; it has more and better photos, and is useful in distinguishing the sadly disappearing native birds from the imported and the occasional visitors. Finally, its compact form is great for the traveler or occasional visitor to Hawaii.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Audubon field guide for Hawaii 25 Jun 2010
By smme - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This book will give you a basic idea of birds to be found in Hawaii and the pictures are good. However, it does not include pictures of female , juvenile or birds in non-breeding plumage or in most cases even give written descriptions of how juvenile and females differ in appearance from male birds. I found this very frustrating as I saw birds which did not fit any of the given pictures and had no way to figure out what they were. Anyone who is a serious birder like I am will be unhappy with this book and amateur birders are going to be left wondering why they can't identify some of the birds they see.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best book for casual birding in Hawaii 6 April 2008
By Keet Kopecky - Published on Amazon.com
There is no better book for the casual birder in Hawaii than this compact field guide produced by the Hawaii Audubon Society. Even the very experienced birder will be happy with this book as a necessary supplement to Pratt's much more academic "The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific" which has become quite dated during the 20 years since its publication. The photos in the Hawaii Audubon Society's Hawaii's Birds are excellent and make identification easy. The natural history information on each species is probably the most detailed of any Hawaiian bird guide available anywhere.
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