Date of this Version
Freezing temperature under a leaden sky, the season's first snow flurry, and lots of activity at my bird feeders-an opportune time to test the coffee-table volume The Birds of Canada. The portraits, painted by John A. Crosby, are as good as those in many of my multitude of field guides, although they are collected into sections between signatures rather than being juxtaposed to the species narratives. The birds are organized according to the American Ornithological Union's sixth check-list, and the usual information-description, field marks, habitat, nesting, range-is here. But Godfrey provides so much more: French names; detailed breeding and occurrence ranges in Canada, including maps of breeding distribution; detailed description and measurement of hand specimens; subspecies notes; even interesting tidbits of bird lore or personal experience that, at times, are as long as the scientific descriptions. This volume, indeed, is the book of record for the 578 species in Canada and its off-shore waters (at least 426 of which breed here).