Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist • 51(1): June 2019, pp 42-43


Copyright © 2019 The Great Plains Natural Science Society


Birds of prey epitomize much of what attracts us to birding. Many are large and easy to observe, particularly in open landscapes. Their predatory nature and behavior give them an added aura of wildness; their migrations can be spectacular. And even veteran birders should enjoy the challenge of identifying the myriad of plumage variations shown by different ages, sexes, subspecies, and color morphs. With his newest effort, Birds of Prey of the West, Brian Wheeler has compiled a comprehensive and enhanced field guide with illustrations that stunningly capture that variation, combined with enough additional context to make it a valuable desk reference for birders of all levels. The geographic scope of this book is the United States north of Mexico and west of the Mississippi River, and Canada west of Manitoba and the western shore of Hudson Bay, north into Nunavut and across western Canada and Alaska. It covers nearly all the regularly occurring raptors of North America, excluding only the Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) of the southeast and a few species of Eurasian and Mexican vagrants (e.g., Steller’s Sea Eagle [Haliaeetus pelagicus] and Roadside Hawk [Rupornis magnirostris]). As such, it may appeal to birders beyond the geography covered, although a companion volume is also available for the East (Wheeler 2018).

This informative, richly illustrated book certainly deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in birds of prey or in the intricacies of bird identification in general.