10 Christmas Gifts for Birders Part #1

Wondering what to get the birder in your life this Christmas? This post explores five items to get for that special birdwatcher, all under $100.00.

#1 – The Big Twitch – Sean Dooley

Definitely one of my favorite big year memoirs, one that certainly rivals Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway. Sean is an excellent and entertaining writer and does a terrific job summing up his Australian big year effort into 322 glorious pages, while also giving us a background of Australian birding. There is a lot of humor packed into those pages, and some parts found me bookmarking them to come back to later on when in need of a good laugh. Ultimately, I categorize this book as a must-read for anyone interested in big year lore. But really, this book would be a good read for birders and non-birders alike interested in gaining a few laughs and a great new adventure story to add to their respective libraries. And, thus, a great Christmas gift for any birder.

#2 – ABA Birdfinding Guides – Various Authors

If I were forced to choose one item to help me plan a trip to any of the premier locations in the ABA Area, the ABA guide to that respective area would certainly be it. I depended heavily on these guides on trips to Florida, Arizona, Texas, Turks and Caicos Islands and in planning trips to California and Alaska. Thus far, all the guides have been incredible and have made my successful trips possible. An example of one of the times one really came up big was in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Lacking any information on local birding in the islands and with zero local listserves to refer to, I was forced to read confusing and often unhelpful trip reports online. That was, until, I realized the ABA Guide to the Bahamas covered the Turks and Caicos Islands. Although written in 1998, many things in this book were still accurate. Instead of having a frustrating and overwhelming trip to North Caicos, I had one of the most incredible birding days of my life, notching 12 life birds in less than 8 hours. I highly recommend these guides over anything else when going on a trip. They are incredibly helpful and make trip planning far easier. If a birder close to you is going to one of these locations in the near future, consider purchasing one of the ABA guides for them.

#3 – The Life of Birds – BBC Video, Hosted by David Attenborough

If I were forced to pick my favorite documentary on birds themselves, this would, unquestionably be it for me. David Attenborough does a fantastic job hosting this documentary, and really helps bring out the wonder that is Earth’s avifauna. The footage is remarkable and breathtaking, and one can watch each episode over and over and never tire of the sensational Saddlebacks, silly Chinstrap Penguins and regal Birds of Paradise. For me, the $35.00 price tag was unquestionably worth it. With approximately 580 hours of footage, The Life of Birds makes a great Christmas gift, one that will take a while to get through.

#4 – Warblers of the Americas – An Identification Guide – Jon Curson, David Quinn and David Beadle

Wood-Warblers rank as the favorite bird family of many. Their flashy colors, beautiful songs and sheer variety make that easy to understand. Warblers of the Americas – An Identification Guide is one of my favorite books about this wonderful family. This book covers all members of the Wood-Warbler clan, from Nome and the Blackpoll Warblers to Brazil and the Flavescent Warblers. The illustrations, covering almost all subspecies and plumages, are absolutely fantastic and the text, containing descriptions on Status and Distribution, Voice, Measurements and Moult (among others) is not far behind. A terrific piece of literature for any birder who has an interest in, or is looking at furthering their knowledge of this family. Note: this book was published in 1994 and is now out of print, but is still being widely sold on the internet.

Another good book for Wood-Warblers is The Peterson Field Guide’s Warblers by Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett. Basically, you can’t go wrong with either book.

#5 – Birders Conservation Handbook – 100 North American Birds At Risk – Jeffrey V. Wells

Now that the American Bird Conservancy’s Guide on bird conservation has come out, this book has sort of taken a backseat as one of the best books written on bird conservation for the entire North American continent. But believe me, it still is. I have now read this book twice and have not only learned a ton about the factors leading to declines in bird populations and what can be done to stop them, but also a ton about the birds themselves. The book covers birds such as Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Steller’s Eider, Tricolored Blackbird. The introductory material on the status of North American bird populations, major conservation issues and what a reader can do to aid conservation are not to be missed. This book does a terrific job in putting bird conservation in the hands of birders and is a terrific gift for any dedicated birder.

Hopefully this post puts a few gift ideas in your mind. Stay tuned for part 2.


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One Response to 10 Christmas Gifts for Birders Part #1

  1. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hi Alex,

    This email makes me want to buy all the books for myself. Merry Christmas to me!

    What a great idea for gifting.

    Thanks for sharing your birding wisdom to one who has so much more to learn,

    Betsy from Rangeley

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