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A Book Report

by Robin Tuck
November 1997 (no. 2)

Earlier this year, I challenged the birders to choose a bird and learn everything they could about it. In an attempt to follow my own advice, I chose to learn about the Yellow-breasted Chat. I went to my field guides and read all they had to say; not very much. So I went to the Internet and searched for "Yellow-breasted Chat." I did find a little, but let me caution you about searching the Internet for "breasted." Be very careful about the links you follow, not all of them lead to birds.

Finding little, I searched the BYU Library (through the Internet) and found no more than I had already found. Next I visited with Merrill Webb, who pointed me towards several books about Warblers; one published around 1910, at BYU but not available for check-out; the other just published but very expensive. I had not succeeded.

A short time ago, I went on a business trip to Ottawa. On the last night there, after the work was done, several of us were out walking and came upon a big bookstore all ablaze with lights; it was a reader’s magnet and I was sucked in. I bee-lined it to the birding books where I found a new Peterson Field Guide, Warblers. It was a deal, only $28 Canadian. Ecstatic, I bought it, not worried that I might find it cheaper here at home. When I returned, I looked in the local stores but I did not find it, not even in their computers. I was able to find it on the Internet at for $16, where I bought several more (Julie wanted one).

Warblers is a great book loaded with just the information I was looking for. For example, the outer tail feathers on the Chat are 10 cm shorter than the center tail feathers. Probably a useless fact for me, but quite interesting none-the-less. This book starts with a very complete general description of the North American Warblers, followed by color plates showing all the major colorations of each one. The last section, comprising most of the book is a detailed description of each warbler in 8 to 10 pages, with color photographs. If you want to know Warblers, get this book. I expect it to be in stock locally in time for Christmas, but you won’t want to wait that long to start reading it. Warblers is written by Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett and is published by Houghton Mifflin, and is brand new.