Win a Signed Copy of the ‘Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding’

Win a Signed Copy of the ‘Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding’

From novice birder to veteran, this book is a fabulous resource for anyone who is interested in identifying birds.

By the Audubon Editors
Published: 03/04/2013


We're giving away five copies of the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding--each one signed by the author, Kenn Kaufman. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below, and be sure to include a viable email address (it won't show up on the page). The official rules are below. The contest ends at midnight, Friday, March 29, 2013. In the meantime, Kaufman shares a bit about the fantastic guide below. Good luck!

In the two decades since the first edition of Advanced Birding was published, the amount of information available has increased by staggering amounts. In the late 1980s, a serious birder's reference library on ID would have included Gulls: A Guide to Identification by P. J. Grant, Shorebirds: An Identification Guide by Peter Hayman et al., and a handful of detailed articles from British and American birding magazines.

Kaufman Guide. W2 embed
Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding, by Kenn Kaufman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 448 pages, $21; Buy it on
Today there are multiple fine books specifically treating the identification of gulls, shorebirds, hawks, hummingbirds, and any other group you can think of, and so many fine articles have been published that it is impossible to keep track of them all. In the late 1980s, Peter Pyle had just produced a first slim guide to the molts and plumages of songbirds. Today that guide has been superseded by two fat volumes by Pyle, totalling over 1,500 pages, detailing molt, plumage sequences, and geographic variation of every North American bird. In the late 1980s an expert birder asked me, in all seriousness, whether the Pomarine Jaeger even has a distinct plumage as a juvenile. Today it takes a few clicks on the Internet to find dozens of photos of this plumage, and many of these actually are identified correctly! What had been a trickle of published material has become a torrent. While the challenge formerly had been to find basic information on identifying most birds, the challenge now is to sift through the blizzards of information to find those points that are relevant, significant, and reliable. 

As times change, reference books and field guides must change also.  The first edition of Advanced Birding included detailed chapters on identification of 34 species pairs or groups, providing information that was not readily available to most birders. Simply updating that book now without changing its focus would hardly serve a useful purpose, because virtually all birders have access to vastly more information today than they did in 1990.  

If I were to simply list more and more field marks for more species, this guide would take on the dimensions of an encyclopedia before it added materially to what is already available. So in this edition I have taken a different approach altogether, and the focus here is on how to identify birds, or how to learn to identify birds. In other words, it's not about memorizing field marks, it's about truly understanding what you see and hear.  

Most of this book, then, consists of a thorough exploration of how to look at birds and how to listen to them, how to come to grips with the special challenges of each group of birds. Unlike many field guides, this one is not designed for quick reference in the field. The best time to study it is before going out to look at birds. The first seven chapters will help orient you to universal aspects of bird recognition. Then, if you're heading to the tidal flats or the sewage ponds, read the chapter on learning to identify shorebirds. If you're heading to a hawkwatch site, read the chapter on learning to identify birds of prey. And so on. 

In addition to all these introductory chapters, I have included ten "sample" chapters treating specific groups in depth. These should be useful in their own right, but they also illustrate various principles: the challenges involved in identifying jaegers, for example, are very different from those we encounter with Empidonax flycatchers. As you master the identification of more groups of birds, you will develop the kind of background knowledge that makes it easier to learn even more.



1) Sponsor: Audubon Magazine, an operating unit of National Audubon Society, Inc., 225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014 ("Audubon Magazine" or "Audubon"). 

2) No purchase necessary.

3) The "Kaufman Field Guide Giveaway" ("Contest") is open from 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time ("ET") on March 4, 2013 through 11:59 p.m. ET on March 29, 2013;

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Advanced Birding Book contest

It would be a welcome addition to my field guides for helping differentiate difficult species (juvenile gulls, certain sparrows, etc).

I would love to have this

I would love to have this book! It will help me identify birds.

I would very much like to have this book

Have been looking at this book on Amazon and have read wonderful reviews. Kenn's the best.

It's only a hobby for me, but

It's only a hobby for me, but this would help to make it more!

Why my children need this book -

Have children coming from Thailand who need to become engaged in the backyard scene and sounds here in North Carolina - a small backyard, but with some big trees and shared with neighbors. It is extremely noisy in the morning - as if it were a primeval jungle. This book will engage them in learning about what is around them . . . a great introduction to their new home. Thank you

I would love to have a signed

I would love to have a signed copy of this book!

birding book contest

I have all Mr. Kaufmann's books except his birding book. I use them to teach elementary school children about the local "science" to be found in their own backyards. This month we are setting up bird feeding stations and a bird blind. There is no fee for my classes, and the children have become very aware of the animals they share their world with. Would love to show the children what a great field guide looks like and how to use it!

Entry to win Win a Signed Copy of the ‘Kaufman Field Guide to Ad

Seeing the bird, recognising the field marks.... excellent. Knowing the bird's life story.... fantastic. I would love to know the rest of the story.

Bird Bird Bird

Bird is the word

Would love to have this

Would love to have this book!!

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