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Details make the bird

Raptors of Western North America Brian K. Wheeler Princeton University Press, 2003; $49.50

September 16, 2003|David Lukas

Ever wonder how to identify that hawk flying overhead?

For most of us, it would be a satisfying experience to distinguish a golden eagle from a red-shouldered hawk, but for a new breed of bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts, the sky is the limit.

This astoundingly detailed guide makes it possible to recognize age classes, molting patterns, subspecies and sexes of most birds of prey. Visual aids make these soaring creatures identifiable even to the birder-challenged.

The guide would be considered a bit excessive except that the hundreds of stunningly crisp photos document these species like no other guide (there are 82 photos solely of red-tailed hawks!).

This level of familiarity is not just an academic exercise, because with fall migration upon us, biologists and bird watchers alike can now monitor subtle changes in these important bird populations.

-- David Lukas

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