Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors by Jerry Liguori is an exceptional book. I have always wanted to become better at raptor identification and Liguori hit the nail on the head for me with this book. I especially like the plates in the back listed under Shapes that give a variety of siloheutte images of the birds in different flight poses. It helps take out the details of color and pattern and focus really on the impression of the bird.
Also I think that by providing mostly far away photos of the raptors is an ingenious tool. How many times have you looked up in the sky to see only a passing glimpse of a raptor? Sometimes when the bird is really familiar you may know it instantly but more times than not for me I fumble with an answer and then the bird is gone. Just recently on my hike at Corbett WMA, Andy and I watched a raptor fly low overhead and even though we both had binoculars we couldn't come up with a positive ID before it shot out of sight. It was frustrating to say the least. I think that with a little studying of Liguori's book I should be much better situated to handle this puzzle.
With so many books on the market these days most birders will possibly pass this one by but I hope they take a second look and see how great this guide can be. It gives you an assortment of far off raptor photos that you can take your time to study. Plus Liguori gives excellent text to the book that will clue you in on the differences between species. In this book Liguori covers the 20 most common migrant raptors and then provides a few extras under "Uncommon Migrants and Others" that provides a few insights on everything from kites, to condors, to owls.
Without a doubt this year when I head to the Keys to watch passing migrant raptors I will have this book along. And trust me, it will be read over and over again in the coming months as I brush up on my raptor ID. If you want to progress to the next level of birding I think Hawks at a Distance will help you along.
This review copy was provided by Princeton University Press.