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Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide [Hardcover]

Steve N. G. Howell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 24 2012

Petrels, albatrosses, and storm-petrels are among the most beautiful yet least known of all the world's birds, living their lives at sea far from the sight of most people. Largely colored in shades of gray, black, and white, these enigmatic and fast-flying seabirds can be hard to differentiate, particularly from a moving boat. Useful worldwide, not just in North America, this photographic guide is based on unrivaled field experience and combines insightful text and hundreds of full-color images to help you identify these remarkable birds.

The first book of its kind, this guide features an introduction that explains ocean habitats and the latest developments in taxonomy. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features such as flight manner, plumage variation related to age and molt, seasonal occurrence patterns, and migration routes. Species accounts are arranged into groups helpful for field identification, and an overview of unique identification challenges is provided for each group. The guide also includes distribution maps for regularly occurring species as well as a bibliography, glossary, and appendixes.

  • The first state-of-the-art photographic guide to these enigmatic seabirds
  • Includes hundreds of full-color photos throughout
  • Features detailed species accounts that describe flight, plumage, distribution, and more
  • Provides overviews of ocean habitats, taxonomy, and conservation
  • Offers tips on how to observe and identify birds at sea

Frequently Bought Together

Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide + The Warbler Guide
Price For Both: CDN$ 49.53

  • The Warbler Guide CDN$ 19.75

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"Learning to identify seabirds requires more time in the field, and more time studying field guides than do most other orders of birds because the field conditions are often so challenging. . . . Anyone who loves seabirds or who is planning a pelagic birding trip will want to own this book."--Wayne Mones, Audubon blog

"Howell has done a tremendous job throughout this book in evoking a sense of ocean exploration and discovery through seabirds and I think that he succeeds admirably in his goal of synthesizing the present knowledge of tubenose identification."--John Carlson, Prairie Ice blog

"Howell's introduction is perhaps the most critical and useful piece of writing at the fore of any bird guide in the past few decades because, before this, so little was written on what it means to be able to identify pelagic birds. Howell explains in great detail concepts like 'wing-loading' and how it pertains to the different species flight styles. He breaks down dynamic soaring, the process by which so many tubenoses get around the oceans. He illustrates, clearly and concisely in simple line drawings, the flight manners of several species of shearwater in both calm and strong winds. He even explains how to orient yourself on the boat relative to the wind to best take advantage of passing birds. It's truly a treasure chest full of incredible information, none of it self-evident, on best experiencing the open ocean. . . . Howell, a man who is truly fluent in tubenose, has produced the something essential here. I could not possibly recommend it more enthusiastically."--Nate Swick, The Drinking Bird

"Seasoned pelagic veterans and landlocked birders alike will have tons to learn about North American tubenoses from this book and I know it will offer enjoyment to anyone interested in wild birds! The bottom line: This is a must-have title for any serious North American birder--get it!"--Bill Schmoker, Brd Pics blog

"This book has incredible information and lots of maps, and although the title suggests it is a guide for North America, trust me, it is so comprehensive, it can be used anywhere in the world!"--Karen Roy, KaHolly blog

"Short Version: If you bird on or near the ocean, buy this book and read it. Slightly Longer Version: Steve Howell's guide to petrels (including shearwaters), albatrosses, and storm-petrels is a must-have resource for anyone who aspires to identify birds on the open ocean."--Jake Rackstraw blog

"This is a field guide because of its attention to bird identification, a reference because of its rich detail and copious citations, and a coffee table book because it is biggish, hard covered, and pretty. . . . If you plan on adding any number of tubenoses to your life list as a birder, you need two things. 1) This book; and 2) Dramamine. Oh, and a boat. Happy birding!"--Greg Laden's Blog

"A MUST have for pelagic birders! This title is an early contender for 'Best Bird Book for 2012'!"--Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker

"This book stands alone as the single most up-to-date, relevant and comprehensive reference guide to the tubenoses of North America on the market, and as it covers virtually half the world's seabirds, it will probably be of use to virtually every birder in the world, although clearly a keen seabirder on either coast of North America will end up wearing their copy out sooner! At $45.00 this is a screaming bargain. At double the price it would be a justifiable expense for any serious birder, but as it sits now, I would think anybody who is interested enough in birds to be reading this right now on Surfbirds has to ask themselves if they can afford NOT to buy this book. An instant classic and a book unlikely to be surpassed in the next several decades."--Mark Maftei, Surfbirds Forum

"An essential tool to help readers get their eye in for their next pelagic trip. But even if you're not going down to the sea in boats, Petrels, in its sophistication of approach and exemplary detail, may well be the most useful book you read this year."--Rick Wright, ABA Blog

"If the sea and its specialized birds draw you to them, you'll love the treasure trove of seabird identification tips and extensive taxonomy treatments found in this scholarly, and weighty, volume. If you want to know the status, distribution, and identification of all the Procellariiformes from Panama to the Arctic, including all vagrants, then this highly anticipated book won't disappoint. If you are interested in the latest Taxonomy then this book is for you. If you are planning your next pelagic trip to the Gulf Stream in order to search for Cape Verde or Desertas Petrels or taking a cruise off western Mexico in the hopes of spotting Ainley's or Townsend's Storm-Petrels then this is a 'must-have' book."--Greg Gillson, Pacific NW Birder blog

"Will likely become a classic for ornithologists and birdwatchers interested in the most nomadic of all birds, the seabirds. It is packed with information. . . . If you have a boat and wondered about the birds that glide past off the stern or you are a seabird biologist or a serious pelagic birder in North America, then this is a book you should purchase."--Rob Butler, Vancouver Sun

"[T]his is a fine book which covers a good number of the oceans' wanderers, a volume which all birders and those interested in conservation should aspire to own, and in whichever continent they happen to live. . . . My advice to any birder out there is to order this book right now."--Another Bird Blog

"A must-have resource, and definitive guide for anyone interested in Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America."--Jerry Jourdan's Digiscoping Blog

"Excellent. . . . If you're planning to see or study tubenoses you'll want to own Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America by Steve N. G. Howell."--Kate St. John, Outside My Window blog

"A must-have for birders with a strong interest in pelagic birding and desirable for birders living near the coast, as some tubenose species may be seen from land on occasion."--John Beetham, A DC Birding Blog

"Steve Howell has a rare talent that makes his publications a joy to read: his writing can take a potentially difficult or dry subject and present it in a way that everyone can understand--and enjoy. Petrels is no exception. . . . There's no excuse for European birders not to buy this book: many of the species covered are regulars on European pelagics, and most of the rest could turn up in future. . . . Four words that sum up Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: accessible; informative; stunning; essential."--Stephen Menzie, Bird Guides

"This superb, hefty tome brings us mentally close to some of the most obscure and alluring big birds on earth. . . . If you are prone to pelagic birding, get this book. If you want to see seabirds without the sea-toss, then this is a good, solid read."--Harry Fuller, A Towhee blog

"Steve N.G. Howell cannot be commended enough for this information dense and thoroughly enjoyable text."--Radd Icenoggle, Radley Ice blog

"This is one very in-depth and detailed tome. . . . Field guides talk about wing shape and structure when discussing shearwaters and petrels, but it's very difficult to grasp with only one or two illustrations. Through hundreds of painstakingly chosen photos (most taken by Howell), we can see and understand the subtle differences that the experts describe. The species accounts also highlight each species molt, which is often the best--if not the only--way to identify some species."--Greg Neise, North American Birding blog

"Steve N.G. Howell's spectacular Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide ranks in my pantheon as one bodacious mind-blower of a book, a how-on-earth-did-he-do-it combination of a definitive text riding perfectly at anchor with a photographic embarrassment of riches, not so much the work of a one-man band as a one-man symphony orchestra with a full chorus. . . . So why's an Adirondacker like me going wild about a book about birds that spend their entire life at sea? Because after hurricanes and major storms they get blown inland and birders spot them as far afield as the Upper Hudson and Lake Champlain."--John Thaxton, Albany Times Union

"Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide is absolutely required for anyone interested in the identification of these wonderful birds, and is one of the best family identification guides, period. If you have ever been, are planning to go, or even think that you might someday go on a pelagic trip, then you should get this!"--Grant McCreary, Birder's Library

"This is a truly essential guide for sea watchers and keen birders on both sides of the Atlantic, even though it is written in the main for a North American audience. It is a particularly well-written guide that should be used as a primary reference for those studying these mysterious sea-dwellers."--Lee G R Evans, Rare Birds Magazine

"Steve N. G. Howell's book on the tubenoses is thorough and highly enjoyable. No other single source provides so much information on such a complicated group of birds."--Eddie Callaway,

"A much-needed ID guide."--Bird Watching Magazine

"From the moment one opens this tome, one cannot help saying 'wow!'. . . This is a book by a talented, enthusiastic writer, who knows his subject. There is little in the way of speculation, and any uncertainties are highlighted. I give this book a strong 'buy' recommendation."--Dick Newell, Birding World

"[T]he guide provides a wealth of useful information, much based on the author's own extensive at-sea experience, and should be in the library--or checked luggage--of every seabird enthusiast."--Angus Wilson, Birdwatch

"Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America is a certainly a detailed and comprehensive reference of tubenoses that have occurred in North American waters. Steve Howell has produced an outstanding book, one that is essential reading for all pelagic enthusiasts, regardless of their geographic location."--Brook Whylie, Corella

"Tubenoses, the collective name for the birds that are the subject of this guide, live and thrive in a challenging environment, the open ocean. Equally challenging is the task of identifying these birds. From the deck of a pitching boat, looking at distant birds that usually are basic black, white, and gray, the typical bird watcher would find the task of identifying these species to be almost impossible. This is no longer the case. The arrival of this photographic guide, with excellent images contributed by some of the most experienced, skillful seabird photographers, makes that task much less daunting. . . . This book will be in the library of every serious bird watcher and will be used for many years to come."--Choice

"This is a great book and a 'must have' for the serious birder who enjoys pelagic birding. . . . Birders with the desire to build a big life list know there will be pelagic trips in their future. Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America is just the book for that type of birder."--Fritz Brock, Wildlife Activist

"Howell opens the book by offering a great chapter that will benefit any seabird enthusiast . . . cycles. This chapter will prove invaluable to both the novice and expert alike, as it takes one back to the basics. . . . I liked the book very much. It is user friendly and informative and will be a valuable asset to the serious sea bird enthusiast."--Geoffrey Carpentier, Ontario Birding News

"The author's knowledge and love of his subject are reflected in a superb book, which will hopefully inspire more people to get out on the oceans, learn about these magnificent birds and contribute to their conservation. . . . Anyone with an interest in seabirds will want to buy it and then start planning their next pelagic!"--John Martin, British Birds

"A must have for pelagic birders! This title is an early contender for my 'Birdbooker's Best Bird Book for 2012!'"--Ian Paulsen, Guardian

"[T]his is a top-quality product that successfully captures our growing knowledge and interest in pelagic seabirds. It is an essential purchase for anyone going pelagic birding in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, and I would also recommend it to seabird enthusiasts restricted to European coasts due to the comprehensive coverage of many northeast Atlantic species. [I]t represents excellent value-for-money, so buy a copy, pack it with your binoculars and ginger biscuits, and get out there!"--Russell B. Wynn, Royal Navy Birdwatching Society Newsletter

"This is a reference book, not a field guide. But it is a very comprehensive and helpful introduction to birds that might be seen on pelagic trips off either the East or West Coast of North America. . . . This is a good book for professional ornithologists or amateurs committed to studying tubenose species."--Mark Lystig, Trumpeter

"I can honestly say this book has not only changed my mind about photographic guides, I believe it sets a benchmark and standard that other titles and authors should follow. This is an outstanding work and should sit on the bookshelf of every keen sea-watcher."--Hugh Harrop, Seabird

"I congratulate Steve Howell on casting so many petrel pearls before seabird enthusiasts."--M. de L. Brooke, Ibis

"I highly recommend both versions of this book: clothbound or electronic. The eBook version is by far the best electronic version of a field guide for birds that I have ever used. And lest you are concerned that the text will be dry and boring, check out the section under each species entitled 'Names'. These bits of trivia are so entertaining that even if one never has the opportunity to take a pelagic trip, the book is worth whatever it costs."--Douglas Chapman, South Dakota Ornithologist Newsletter

"This book is the product of a lifetime of fieldwork by the principal author and his collaborators. Howell's love for pelagic birding is apparent and he communicates that enthusiasm with clearly written sections describing plumages and behavior and accompanied by photographs illustrating all the important field marks and many of their variations. The book is a real tour de force and will be the standard of the realm for a great many years. I strongly recommend its inclusion in the library of any serious student of birds."--Robert Ake, Raven

"With 975 quality color photographs and 66 maps plus lengthy text accounts, this is another Howell tour de force. An indispensable guide to these pelagic species that visit our coasts."--Library Journal

From the Inside Flap

"No other text on the tubenoses begins to offer the material contained in Howell's latest book. The reader has a palpable sense, when reading it, that the author not only knows his subject and audience but also genuinely loves the ocean and its inhabitants--and relishes teaching people about them."--Edward S. Brinkley, author of National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America

"This is a well-written and scholarly book that will be widely used as a primary reference by a growing cadre of at-sea birders and ornithologists. Text, photos, and photo captions are excellent, at times entertaining, and very informative."--Peter Pyle, author of Identification Guide to North American Birds

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wonders of Tubenoses June 7 2013
By Lundy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Howell, Steve N.G. 2012. Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 483 pp. Hardcover, $45.00 (ISBN 978-0691142111).-- This is a book aimed for the lover of the open ocean and its flying `tubenose' inhabitants, and for the hardcore pelagic birder. Without question, Steve Howell has produced a masterpiece on the mysterious and intriguing seabird group, the Procellariiformes, best known as petrels (including shearwaters), albatrosses, and storm-petrels. It is a storehouse of information on the bird group as a whole and the ocean environment it occupies including how petrel distribution is influenced by major ocean currents, fronts, winds and other oceanographic features. Of course, the bulk of the book comprises the species accounts (70 taxa) that cover about half the world's procellariiforms. The accounts are separated into sub-groups and provide details for identification far beyond general appearance and size, such as flight characteristics, plumage variation (related to age and moult), seasonal patterns of occurrence, migratory movements, and visual determinants for distinguishing between similar-looking species, as well as a map for each species showing where it is likely to be found and at what time of year. But it is the hundreds of superb colour photographs and figures (most by the author) that make the work a `state-of-the-art' identification guide, unlike any other. The illustrations combined with the detailed text provide all the tools necessary to identify any tubenose encountered at sea. Although focused on North America, this guide will prove useful for seabird watchers on both sides of the North Atlantic and North Pacific. This is an essential book - more than a photographic guide -- for anyone interested in pelagic seabirds per se and the `bible' for all tubenose researchers and enthusiasts. D.N. Nettleship (VoicePipe 58:7, April 2013)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent electronic version of an excellent book Nov. 7 2012
By Weatherbird - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note: this review is for the Kindle version of this book (which I'll call PASNA).

I already owned the hardcover version of PASNA when I bought the kindle version for my iPad. The book is excellent. It uses photos, rather than painted illustrations. Photos can be problematical since they show an instantaneous view of a single bird while a bird can look different depending on its age, molt, the lighting conditions, etc. PASNA largely overcomes this problem by using multiple photos. The photos are used to compare the appearance of a particular species under different lighting conditions and to compare different species so the differences can be shown.

One problem with the hardcover book is that it is rather big, heavy and expensive to use on a boat (which, after all, is the best place to observe the seabirds which are the subject of this book). I was happy to see a Kindle version of the book was available. My iPad is smaller and lighter than the hardcover version of PASNA itself and I can view other books on the same iPad without it becoming any bigger and heavier. All that wouldn't be much help if the Kindle version of the book wasn't any good. Fortunately, the Kindle version works very nicely on the iPad. If you want to look up a particular species, just go to the TABLE OF CONTENTS, touch 'List of Species Covered'. then touch the name of the species of interest. The photos and range maps are embedded within the species accounts. This works out much better for an electronic book than the arrangement where the species accounts, the illustrations and the range maps are grouped separately. Since this book is quite recent, perhaps the author and publisher planned from the beginning how to make the book work in an electronic version.

The resolution of the photos is adequate, but iPad users may be spoiled by the superb views of higher resolution photos they are used to on the wonderfully sharp iPad display. it is easy to magnify the PASNA photos on iPad by double-tapping on them. When the photos are magnified, they look a bit blurry. I have had access to some of the original photos used in PASNA, and it is a bit disappointing to see the same photos as they appear in the Kindle version on iPad. Still, the photos are sharp enough for their intended use.

I highly recommend either the paper or electronic versions of this book. The Kindle version is by far the best electronic version of a field guide for birds that I have ever used.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelagic Reference Sept. 10 2012
By Andy BMy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent guide to identifing Storm-petrels, Petrels and Albatrosses at sea. Photographs are of high quality and helpful. The stongest sections are on Indentifing birds in flight at a distance (which is often the case) by flight and wing beat patterns. Don't go to sea without it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a whole book about tube noses! Aug. 4 2012
By Gregory T. Laden - Published on
Did you know that there is an entire group of birds called "Tube Noses" because they have tubes on their noses? Well, to be more exact, the term is "tubenoses" and the noses are beaks. The tubes are tubular nostril-like thingies that most (all?) birds have which are extra tube-like in the tubenoses. Thus the name.

Albatrosses, petrels, and storm-petrels, which includes shearwaters, make up the tubenoses, and this book does an excellent job of covering them.

I love this book and I now want to become a tubenose watcher. This will be difficult from Minnesota. What makes it difficult is that Procellariiformes are ocean birds, and are truly pelagic, returning to land only to breed, and generally then only to remote islands. But there are exceptions. Some nest in the interior in the Arctic region, and they are occasionally seen on the Salton Sea and in the Sonoran desert (a 1997 report lists 27 records of this, ever).

Steven H.G. Howell is a widely known ornithologist and bird writer, who is probably best known for Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds (Peterson Reference Guides). There is a connection here to the Procellariiformes, of course, because if you spend all your time at sea, molting periods are more important than for the average bird.

Prior to the publication of this work, there really was no photographic comprehensive guide to the "North American" tubenoses. There are just under 1000 photos and figures in this 520 page book, and a LOT of text. There are 70 or so birds described in over 500 pages, so the information level is very high. This is a field guide because of its attention to bird identification, a reference because of its rich detail and copious citations, and a coffee table book because it is biggish, hard covered, and pretty.

I find the range maps interesting because they have not only the usual detail, but also, arrows showing the migratory patterns of of the birds. It seems that many species of tubenoses migrate in circles, and not just back and forth. Huge, giant circles the size of Canada in many cases.

If you plan on adding any number of tubenoses to your life list as a birder, you need two things. 1) This book; and 2) Dramamine.

Oh, and a boat. Happy birding!
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Kindle Birding book of more to come. Aug. 12 2014
By James E. Capelle - Published on
This is my first Kindle book and I will never buy another iBook again. I was going on a cruise in Alaska and I bought the same book in iBook format. My wife asked me about what I was looking at while at the airport on the way out. She told me that I'll be at sea and no connection for the internet or ibook and on the plane I wouldn't be able to look it over also. I bought this and downloaded as the plane was boarding it would have been fun to watch the drama while in the plane and I hoping some more people were late in boarding. I was a hit on the cruise as I had it on my iPad and other birders could look from their seats and see the pictures on my iPad.

Yes the pictures were right on and Mr. Howell presents some interesting reading on the distribution, flight paths and actual flying patterns of each bird. The flying pattern helped in nailing birds that were too shadowed or at a distant to visually ID.

I will buying more birding book in Kindle format for future trips now that I see how it works when there no reception. My wife buys nothing but Kindle books and she travels a lot and now I know she reads a lot on the planes.
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book and boat anchor, too! June 18 2014
By Farook Koehler - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book on pelagics is quite good, about as comprehensive as you can get, and really helps with identifying, and learning about, pelagic birds of North America. Great book to get to study prior to any offshore excursion or pelagic trip (like off Hatteras), so you'll have a much better idea of what you'll see and when. Really helps in distinguishing between difficult IDs like storm-petrels or jaegers. Photos up the ying-yang, both close-up and more distant, both of which are useful.
Please realize that this in no way is a "field guide", unless you perhaps are 8 feet tall and routinely carry 200 pound loads in your super-sized pockets. Sticking this book in your carry-on luggage may make the difference between "too much weight" and okay, but lugging it around in your carry-on backpack is not a mistake you'll make twice. Oof.
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