Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



THE PRAIRIE NATURALIST, Volume 37, No. 1, March 2005, pp 53-55.


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


The Birdwatcher's Companion was revised in 2004 under a new title, The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlire, and by a new publisher, Princeton University Press. This substantial work builds on Leahy's previous edition published in 1982. Hailed by the publisher as the quintessential, alphabetically arranged guide to North American birdlife, the new edition of The Birdwatcher's Companion is over 100 pages longer than the first edition, but, overall, the style and format have not changed much between the two editions. The Companion begins with a brief chapter in which the author describes how to use the book, how it is organized, and what features or topics are and are not included. Although the title suggests that the book covers birds from all of North America, it focuses on the continental United States and Canada.

I enjoyed perusing the contents of this book and randomly reading essays and definitions. The Companion is not a compendium of everything known about North American birds, but it is an impressive and authoritative compilation of information on one of the most-studied groups of organisms in North America. Birders and bird enthusiasts will enjoy browsing through this book for its myriad of facts and entertaining essays. Leahy's light-hearted writing style, humorous anecdotes, and personal experiences add zest to many topics. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this beefy reference book is well worth the cost for any birder and will become a valuable resource for any biologist, ecologist, or manager who responds to questions from the ever-inquisitive public. In short, this book will appeal to those who love birds.-