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 Today that guide has been superseded by two fat volumes by Pyle, totalling over 1,500 pages, detailing molt, plumage sequences, and geographic variation of every North American bird.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;

Magazine Category


Birding Field Manual

Pick me Pick me!

Birding Field Manual

Pick me Pick me!

Field Guide

me and my mother shared the birding hobby. she would have loved this book.

A great book for my

A great book for my collection of field guides! If you don't have the Kaufman Insect Guide, you may want to add that one, also!


One can never have too many field guides, or so I assume. I think I only have three at this point


One can never have too many field guides, or so I assume. I think I only have three at this point

Looks like a great bird book!

Looks like a great bird book!

Book give away

I am renewing my birding habit after a couple of years of only very casual birding and
always looking to learn more, this would be a welcome addition to help pursue birding. Thank you for the opprotunity.

Kaufman Field Guide

Old birder would like a new book :)

Kaufman guide

Happy Easter, I would love to win a copy.

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