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Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World [Paperback]

Derek Onley , Paul Scofield

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Paperback, April 3 2007 --  
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Book Description

April 3 2007 Princeton Field Guides

This is the first comprehensive field guide to the world's 136 species of albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, storm petrels, and diving petrels. Because many of these birds spend most of their lives far from the coast, traveling from ocean to ocean in a constant search for food, they are poorly known, enigmatic, and often hard to identify in the field. This guide will make field identification much easier. It illustrates every species and shows the distinct plumages of each. It contains 46 high-quality color plates opposite concise descriptions and a color distribution map, with more complete species descriptions following. Species are illustrated on the same page as their confusion species, allowing direct comparisons for more accurate identifications.

This field guide includes information on breeding, feeding, distribution, migration, and conservation. And it illustrates for the first time several extremely rare species, such as Beck's and MacGillivray's Petrels, and the New Zealand Storm-Petrel, which was rediscovered only in 2004.

Seabird watchers will find this an indispensable field guide for use around the world.

  • A comprehensive guide to all 136 species of open-ocean seabirds, with subspecies and morphs fully illustrated
  • Designed for field use, with concise information opposite plates, and close- and long-range identification tips
  • Confusion species included on plates to aid accurate identification
  • Detailed species accounts, including a color distribution map for each species
  • Full treatment of recently rediscovered and rarely seen species

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (April 3 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691131325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691131320
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #471,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This new field guide is very readable, interesting and an informative treatise on a suite of birds most birdos will never get the chance of observing.... There is a wealth of detail in text, distribution maps and paintings of each species that you would be hard pressed to find in any other similar guide. (Martin O'Brien Bird Observer)

[The guide] is for birders and others who go to sea and wish to find and identify the birds they see there. (Wildlife Activist)

[T]his is an important guide for ornithologists, birders, naturalists, and conservation biologists seriously interested in oceanic birds. It will significantly assist these people in making correct identifications of these fascinating birds at sea. Highly recommended. (International Hawkwatcher)

This guide should make field identification easier for all those hardy souls who venture on the briny deeps. (Charles E. Keller Indiana Audubon Quarterly)

From the Back Cover

"This is an exciting book that will appeal to the flourishing and growing group of seabirders. The concise text opposite the plates is handy, and essential, as seabirds are ever on the wing. The layout and organization are right on the money."--Debra Shearwater, owner of Shearwater Journeys

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have book for pelagic birders Dec 15 2007
By C. Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a replacement for my older Peter Harrison's book on Seabirds. That book is good, but is somewhat outdated and too large for the field.

This book is much smaller, as it only covers the procellariform birds, and much more field friendly. As such, it makes a good pelagic field guide rather than just a desk reference.

The plates are nice and show several views and plumages of each species.
The maps are good, the text concise and readable with good references and comparisons with similar species.

For the inexperienced pelagic birder, there is a good discussion of approaches to pelagic birding and challenges that this specialized type of birding presents. For the experienced seabirder, there are tables of measurement data for certain problematic groups (Little Shearwaters, Prions, etc.) and a good discussion of plumage variation in the "Wandering" Albatrosses.

I think this book will provide a good introduction to the challenges of pelagic species identification as well as being an indispensable book for the pelagic birder. And all this comes at a reasonable price.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plates with top-rate identification info Nov. 1 2008
By Jack Holloway - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Basics: 2007, softcover, 240 pages, 45 color plates of 136 species, range maps

Second only to the classic book by Harrison, this is a quality book that focuses on a specific set of the pelagic species. Groups not included in this book are the gulls, jaegers, terns, penguins, cormorants, pelicans, tropicbirds, and frigatebirds. I like having this narrower focus since it allows more plates and information to be included while maintaining a smaller sized book.

The artistry and the variety of plumages in the plates are excellent. Each species is shown with anywhere from 2-8 different angles or plumages. Some birds, such as the Leach's Storm-Petrel, are shown on multiple plates to show direct comparisons with similar species. Wisely, a note is placed with these birds to alert you to where additional illustrations may be found on the other plates. The plates make good use of the space with 8-23 illustrations. Those with higher counts still do not appear too crowded since these often involve only the heads of the birds to show subtle differences. I found these extra illustrations, such as the bill variations for the Westland and White-chinned Petrels, to be very useful when using this book off the coast of Chile. My only small critique with the plates is the stark, shiny white background, which makes the paler-plumaged birds not stand out as much - especially in the bright sunlight when standing on the deck of the boat.

The text is arranged into two sections. One consists of brief identification notes found opposite the plates. These are brief but potent. The bulk of the species accounts is in the last half of the book. About one page is dedicated to each bird and is broken into these catetories: taxonomy, distribution, behavior, jizz, size, plumage, molt, and identification. At least half of the information is given towards plumage and identification. This is top notch information that covers the variety of races, subspecies, and color morphs. The notes on jizz are also well written and quite helpful to aid in the identification. These offer distinct pointers that might not be noticed otherwise.

The range maps, which must cover a large area for these widely wandering birds, do a good job at depicting the ranges. Of course, the vast area covered means these ranges are somewhat generalized. Where a species is more locally confined, the maps zoom in to be more specific.

This is a must-have book for pelagic excursions. Although the Harrison guide might offer some additional text, its age falls behind the many taxonomic changes addressed in Onley's book. Also, Harrison's book is simply bigger to handle with all the other seabird families included.

I've listed several related books below...
1) Seabirds: An Identification Guide by Harrison
2) Seabirds of the World by Harrison
3) Southern albatrosses and petrels: An identification guide by Harper
4) Seabirds of Australia by Lindsey
5) The Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife by Shirihai
6) Sea Birds Britain Ireland by Cramp
7) Field Guide to New Zealand Seabirds by Parkinson
8) Ocean Birds of the Nearshore Pacific by Stallcup
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant contribution Sept. 27 2007
By Wj Waugh - Published on Amazon.com
A very useful and well illustrated book. A must for the expert and amateur alike. Easy to use and well laid out, it is essential reading for those of us who go to sea with our eyes open to the nature around us
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best book for identifcation of the tubenoses Feb. 24 2009
By Damon Andrew Ramsey - Published on Amazon.com
One of the trickiest groups of birds to identify are the tubenoses; those birds seen mainly at sea, like the albatross, petrels, shearwaters, etc. Add to the that confusion are the recent many taxonmic changes. But this book offers detailed variations of species, the most recent taxonomy, as well as lots of extra info on feeding, behaviour and likely range maps. This book is fairly pricey for it's size if you buy it in NZ or Australia, but worth it if you are spending some time on the southern seas. It definitely helped me out for ID and pointers for these ocean going birds in my "Ocean Surfaces" book.
Damon Ramsey, author of "Ocean Surfaces of Australasia"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buy the paper book -- do not buy the Kindle version Nov. 7 2012
By Weatherbird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note: this review deals with mainly the Kindle version of the book (which I'll call APSW, for short).

I am a birder and I enjoy pelagic birding. I own a paperback version of APSW and I later bought the Kindle version to use on my iPad.

I like the paperback version of APSW very much. It uses paintings for illustrations. The advantage of that is that the illustrator can depict the birds in ideal poses to show their shape and plumage and can depict the colors as they would appear under ideal lighting conditions. It has been a favorite book for me to take on boat trips since it is small enough to easily carry aboard and since the illustrations by Derek Onley, the text and the range maps are all excellent.

The Kindle app on the iPad ought to be an ideal way to use a field guide for birds on a boat. The iPad (at least when equipped with a sturdy cover) is tough enough to use at sea and should allow a seagoing birder to carry a whole library in the space of one moderately large paper book. However, the Kindle version of APSW does not work very well at all on the iPad. The Kindle toolbar for the book does not show a table of contents, although there is one near the beginning of the book. There is a list of species, however the species on the list are not linked to the species accounts. There is a list of various bird groups (Albatrosses, shearwaters) in the table of contents. Tapping on the name of some of these groups takes one to the species accounts for the group, but in other cases (albatrosses) takes one to the general description of the group in the introduction. The plates of illustrations in the paper book are presented with descriptions on the facing page. However on the Kindle version I don't see any way of displaying the illustrations together with the descriptions. Since the illustrations are labelled 1a., 1b, etc. rather than with the bird names, one has to switch back and forth from one page to another to match the illustrations with the names and descriptions. This is very inconvenient. Also, the plates of illustrations are not linked to the species accounts (and vice versa) so if your are looking at an illustration and want to go to the corresponding species account, there is no quick way to do it.

Finally, the proofreading is terrible. One of the albatross plates is labelled "Plate 1: GREAT AALBATROSS OF THE SOUTHERN OCEANS". I would have hoped a book on Albatrosses would have "albatross" spelled correctly! The Kindle version is riddled with errors like this (that do not appear in the paper book).

The paper copy of this book is excellent and I would recommend it highly. I would not recommend the Kindle version.

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