The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is host to ebird (ebird.org), where citizen-scientist birders all over the world log their sightings. Birding Aboard (also called SEABC) used ebird to host its members’ sightings. While birdingaboard.org no longer seems to be operational, anyone can create a free account with ebird and log bird sightings. Not only does every contribution make a difference for research and conservation decisions, but it’s also just a fun way to keep track of your own sightings and look up what bird species live in your area (or any area you visit). My favorite seabird book is Seabirds of the
World by Peter Harrison. It has photographic plates of hundreds of seabirds, which is no mean feat when that includes such rarities as the magenta petrel, of which fewer than 150 still survive, found only on the Chatham Islands off South Island, New Zealand.
Since Harrison’s book covers seabirds exclusively, I turn to other books for landand shore-bird identification. In the Arctic and Alaska, I love A Complete Guide to
Arctic Wildlife by Richard Sale. More than half the book is devoted to birds, including superb photographs, again including hard-to-spot species such as the Mckay’s bunting, endemic to St. Matthew and Hall islands in the central Bering Sea. The other half of Arctic Wildlife is, of course, devoted to the remarkable mammals of the region, everything from iconic species such as polar bears to hares and ground squirrels. In the temperate latitudes, I like both the Audubon Society’s field guides and Sibley’s guides.