A Bird-Finding Guide to Canada
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.
Birding and travelling are an irresistible combination. Having gained familiarity with the local bird population, the serious birder is tempted into longer and longer excursions in search of new additions to his or her life list. Hence the growing popularity of bird-finding guides.
Unlike a field guide, a bird-finding guide doesn’t cover how to identify birds. It assumes the reader knows that and/or has bird books to help along the way. Rather, it deals with locations — the spots where specific species can be found.
By this definition, Finlay’s work is fascinating. He has drawn on the knowledge of experts in each province and territory to assemble a readable, fact-filled book that belongs in every birder’s glove compartment and flight bag.
The guide tells where to find 550 species, giving 200 choice birding spots. Both urban and rural sites are included. There are maps, travel information, addresses and telephone numbers for knowledgeable contact persons, a checklist of birds found in each region, and a summary of recent American Ornithologists’ Union reclassifications.
The location descriptions take into account weather conditions, nesting sites, migration activity, vegetation, and any features of special interest, such as displays, museums, lookout towers, etc. Finlay mentions bits of history, recommends hotels, and includes relevant local activities such as bird banding. His personal observations add interest. For example, he comments on one location as a spot where you might see four different species of chickadees in one day: enough to make any birder rearrange vacation plans.
The work is illustrated with forty black-and-white sketches. These are not particularly useful to the work but are competently executed and are a nice touch.
More detailed bird-finding guides are available for some provinces. Finlay’s book supplements rather than replaces these. An excellent work by a dedicated, knowledgeable naturalist with a flair for readable prose.