Subject: Audubon handbook IDs Date: Sep 7 18:56:51 1994 From: Dennis Paulson - dpaulson at ups.edu
I agree with Alvaro Jaramillo's judgments on the identifications of the photos in the Audubon handbooks, with just a few caveats/additions. What a great job you did, Alvaro! By the way, how many people use these books, anyway?
EASTERN HANDBOOK, p. 40, Herring Gull (3) is paler than most first-year California Gulls, perhaps the interior Larus californicus albertaensis is paler than L. c. californicus, as is the case in adults. Also, is it my imagination or does that bird show a slightly paler eye? If so, it's not a California. But I guess it must be; Herrings don't normally show that much pink in the bill until their backs are gray. BTW, both Herring and Ring-billed are printed too dark in my copy.
p. 68, Great Cormorant (1) is I believe a Double-crested, from the pale bill, orangish throat pouch with typical D-c configuration, and lack of dark-capped, white-throated effect typical of imm. Great.
p. 284, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Al will probably have discovered by now that bird (2) is actually labelled as an Acadian--a very confusing aspect of these books was to treat similar species in this manner.
There is of course a lot more that can be said about these books besides species identification, e.g. the "winter" Red-throated Loon (p. 73) is an immature, the female Barrow's Goldeneye (p. 84) is a western bird, as they don't have an all-orange bill in the East. The Bell's Vireo (p. 476) is surely a western bird too, misleading to easterners in its dullness. And isn't it lovely that the "winter" female Oldsquaw (p. 87) has downy young at that time of year! I didn't pursue this line of questioning throughout the book, but a particularly bad error that I noticed is under Tree Swallow (p. 263), where it shows a first-year female and misleads the reader into thinking all females are dull. Rampant sexism again by a live white male author.
WESTERN HANDBOOK, p. 20, Glaucous-winged Gull (3) is far too dark to be useful, perhaps a G-w X Western hybrid. Again, the adult gulls in my copy are printed much too dark; the California (p.27) is darker than many of our NW Western Gulls, the Ring-billed and Herring are dark enough to be Californias. Terribly misleading if they are all printed that way.
Brandt's Cormorant (p. 73) (1) has an amazingly long tail for this species, but I guess the head feathering and puffy crown make it a Brandt's, all right.
Semipalmated Sandpiper (p. 168) (1) is a Western Sandpiper, for the reasons given in my shorebird book (oops, now you have to buy a copy).
This is exhausting, like encountering all the birds of North America on a field trip and trying to identify them. Would this be a birder's version of heaven or hell?
If you could forward this to BIRDCHAT for me, Dan, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
Dennis Paulson University of Puget Sound Tacoma, WA