Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Einemann, "Book Reviews," from Nebraska Bird Review (June 1989) 57(2).


Copyright 1989, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


The Complete Birder, A Guide to Better Birding, Jack Connor, illustrated by Margaret LaFarge, xiii + 285 pp., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, softcover $8.95.

The Complete Birder is divided into twelve chapters that can aid both the serious birder and the beginning birder. Connor opens with a chapter entitled "The Sporting Science". In this chapter he unequivocally states outright that birding is not easy, no matter how experienced one is nor how well equipped. He does say, and I tend to agree, that "birding can be exhilarating, enlightening, evocative, or exasperating -- and often all of these at once He uses this chapter to historically relate his development as a birder. The process was a slow, prolonged, tortuous development.

Excellent chapters on optics and acoustics follow. Connor explains all the details to look for when buying the right binoculars, spotting scopes, and tripods. He states that the road to good birding is done by upgrading the binoculars the birder uses. To do this involves comparison shopping and careful analysis of the technical information. One needs to know what one wants to do as a birder. Then one goes out and finds the binoculars and other equipment that best suit one's needs. Once one has binoculars, one needs to use them in the field on a regular basis. Becoming a good birder cannot be accomplished by resting on the living room sofa in front of the television set. Birding experience is gained through contact with nature. In addition, the author leads the reader though the various ways the reader can use the bird songs and calls to become a better birder. This requires practice and a number of other fine-honed mnemonic skills. These skills are not acquired overnight.