A PRIMER FOR UNDERSTANDING THE TYPES OF BIRDING BOOKS:
FIELD GUIDE - A field guide is a portable identification manual, with illustrations or photos and descriptions assisting field identification. Text may include complete natural history, or may be
concise and cover only identification details. Distribution maps often included. Formats vary.
BIRDER'S GUIDE / BIRDWATCHER'S GUIDE / FINDING GUIDE - Lists specific locations known
to have good birdwatching potential. These usually include details about each site, maps, directions, bird lists
and all the information you will need to get the best out of each location.
CHECKLIST - This one can cause some confusion. Small, pocket FIELD CHECKLISTS include only
names and locations, to be checked off by birders in the field. ANNOTATED CHECKLISTS
include brief details on records, abundance, seasonality, and habitats. Larger
handbooks or SYSTEMATIC LISTS (e.g. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds or B.O.U. Checklists) include
detailed notes on taxonomy and nomenclature, habitat, and distribution.
BREEDING BIRD ATLAS - These employ data from years of surveys to
describe life history, abundance, and distribution of the species which breed in that state or region.
They usually include distribution maps, preferred habitats, abundance,
breeding status, and a historical perspective on all the preceding factors.
AVIFAUNA - A description of the bird life found in a particular region. Each bird usually has
an entire page to itself with complete natural history and identification information, along with
status, distribution, and local historical data.
HANDBOOK - An oversized tome with comprehensive natural history information for a particular
region, usually also including identification information.