The Lorimer Pocketguide to Ontario Birds.


256 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Index
ISBN 978-1-55028-920-6
DDC 598'.09713




Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Innovation is the dominant characteristic of this selective guide for novice birders. It’s all about visuals and ways to promote speedy, accurate identification.


The 225 bird species included are in two main groups, water and land birds. Within these there are many sub-groups based more on a beginner’s observations than ornithological tradition. For example, someone unfamiliar with woodpeckers might, on seeing one, move naturally to the “tree clinging birds” section. The focus is on primary identifiable features, with innovations such as a visual interpretation of flight patterns and feeding techniques for water birds. For land birds, nesting location is given through another unique visual element. Unlike traditional field guides, foot type and egg size are illustrated for each species, as is a bar of gradated colour to indicate when the species is most likely to be seen in the area. For the birdwatcher who doesn’t venture beyond the kitchen window, there’s visual representation of the type of birdfeeder the species is most likely to visit. Perhaps most imaginative is the use of silhouettes to narrow the possibilities for identification by visualizing the bird’s size in relation to the size of a page of the book.


The work is in full colour—a colour illustration of the species in male and female plumage, eggs in full colour, colour-coded section tabs, plus a full-colour quick-reference index arranged by bird size.


The bird selection is limited to species found in southern Ontario—which varies little from those found in most of eastern Canada and the U.S.—with emphasis on those that are common, widespread, or of special interest. The text for each includes a description of plumage and general appearance, voice, food, and nest.


The book’s strengths are its weaknesses. By excluding less common birds, a source of confusion is eliminated, speeding probable identification. Yet the absence of all species makes it too limited for the experienced birder. Similarly, dedicating a full page to each species means the information can be given in a clean, easy-to-read format. The flip side of this is that the opportunity for species-to-species comparisons, provided by more traditional guides that group similar birds on one page, is lost.


The book is larger than convenient for a field guide. It has its own niche as an innovative training tool for those taking their first steps into the hobby of birdwatching.


Domm, Jeffrey C., “The Lorimer Pocketguide to Ontario Birds.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024,