After hearing that Houghton Miflin's webpage had the due date for the new "Hawks of North America" guide listed as November 1, you can imagine my astonishment when I saw the beast "in the flesh" at the Barne's and Noble stand at the Clearwater Bird Festival this weekend. They had only one copy at the beginning of the event and then I saw it and then there were none! Here are some initial observations on the changes without getting into critical detail:

The original was 198 pages long including 24 color plates and 2 black and white plates, the revised second edition is 316 pages long and has 40 color plates. The plates are all new and improved and the details reflect the changes in our understanding of hawk identification since the initial publication in 1987. Brian Wheeler has done an excellent job protraying each, and there are far more examples of each species' respective plumages (e.g. Mississippi Kite had 6 illustrations on half a page before, there are 13 in the new guide and the whole page is dedicated to this species; Bald Eagle was 9, now 15; Merlin was 7, now 11, etc.). Additionally, the original had 33 pages of references and 42 pages of poorly reproduced black and white photos at the back of the guide. The second edition has less than one page of references, and photos are worked into the body of the text in each respective species account. The new photos are reproduced in full color and are of higher quality than their predecessors (probably a testament to the authors' improvements in camera gear and skill as well!)

I have not fully worked my way through the text yet, but in a quick scan the text does seem to fairly represents the changes in our knowledge of raptor plumages over the past 15 years. At any rate, I think the book seem like a must have for raptor fans throughout, it is a vast improvement over the first edition, and figured I would spread the word of the guide's release now while there is still half a season of raptor watching left! Standard disclaimers apply, I am not associated with the production, sales, blah, blah, blah, of the book. Do not stand to gain any profit, blah, blah, blah..... unless of course there is a run on them at the local level and someone wants to pay me dearly for my copy! ;) List price is $22.00, I'll start the bidding at ...... 

Good birding,

Jeff Bouton
Port Charlotte, FL
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