Our History

hand carved wooden sign for Buteo Books with a carved hawk Buteo Books was founded in 1971 by Joyce and Byron Harrell in Vermillion, South Dakota. List number one, on a single sheet of paper, offered some 50 bird books for sale. In 1991 the business was purchased by Allen Hale and moved to Nelson County, Virginia. In 2013 ownership of the business transferred to the next generation of the Hale family, Elisabeth and Jeremy Hale. Today we offer and stock the largest selection of ornithology books in North America; over 2,000 titles in print, including field guides, finding guides, and scientific monographs. We offer hundreds of rare and out-of-print books, from bargain used books to rare antiquarian volumes. New, used, or out-of-print; Buteo Books is the place to locate that hard-to-find title. 

Buteo Books has expanded in several directions over the decades, but our core objective remains: " to stock the widest selection of titles on ornithology and birdwatching to be found in the world while providing knowledgeable advice and excellent customer service."

Recent Developments

  • Several years ago we purchased the extant inventory of the publications of the American Museum of Natural History through 1959: Memoirs, Bulletins, and American Museum Novitates.  Additionally, publications in ornithology for subsequent years are available. 
  • Buteo Books is the authorized agent for back issues of publications of the American Ornithologists' Union including the AOU Check-list and Ornithological Monographs through 2007. 
  • Buteo Books now owns the complete stock of single species accounts in the Birds of North America series, and a few complete sets are still available.
  • As of June 1, 2009, Buteo Books is the new outlet for ABA Sales, the publishing and bookselling arm of the American Birding Association. We believe that this partnership between the non-profit association catering to recreational birders and the largest seller of new, used, and out-of-print ornithology books in the world will be beneficial for everyone.
  • On January 1, 2013, Buteo Books was sold to Jamie Hale, Allen Hale's daughter-in-law, who began working at the bookstore in 1998. But while the official ownership of Buteo Books has passed to the next generation, our family will remain unchanged. Allen Hale, owner since 1991, will continue to work at the bookstore, but will enjoy an employee's privilege of taking time off for birdwatching!
  • In February 2013, Buteo Books moved to our new location in the historic old cold storage warehouse in the small village of Arrington, Virginia. We are only a few miles away, but our space is vastly expanded and improved. We invite you to set up an appointment to come visit us anytime!
  • Allen Hale has been leading birding tours to Panama since 1998 and specializes in customized itineraries for small groups.

Our Offerings

Buteo Books stocks the largest selection of new, used, and antiquarian bird books in the world. Every in-print book that we offer is currently listed on this website, and new ones are being added every day. We are also working quickly to include our selection of multiple thousands of antiquarian and used books on this site. If you don't find it listed here, please feel free to contact us about any specific books for which you are looking.

Our Staff

We pride ourselves on our customer service. Our small but knowledgeable staff is happy to offer advice, experience, and recommendations. We're here to make sure that you get the book you need. If we don't have it in stock, we can probably find it for you. 

Our Commitment

Buteo Books is a family-owned and operated business based on the firm belief that independent booksellers are a vital component of our social and cultural landscape.  We share a love and appreciation of birds with our customers and are committed to preserving biological diversity and supporting conservation efforts throughout the world. We re-use packing materials and paper, recycle every day, and do NOT send out catalogs indiscriminately. Our mailing list is not shared and we do not wish to send catalogs to people who do not want them. 

Our Location

In February 2013, Buteo Books moved to a four-story warehouse with a history of its own. Built in 1930, as a cold storage for the blossoming Nelson County apple orchard industry, this building has, in the recent decade, been undergoing a renovation and rebirth. Now with climate-controlled, well-organized space to hold all of our constantly growing stock, Buteo Books will continue to grow and meet the demands of a new, modern bookselling industry. Located in rural Nelson County, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, we welcome visitors by appointment.  Hawks and owls, not to mention Hooded and Worm-eating Warblers, nest in our woods (and sometimes barn owls nest in our building!) and we feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful, tranquil place. If you would like to know more about our historic warehouse building, and the storage and architectural salvage businesses that share the space with us, visit //nelsonstoragellc.com/about

Our store is open by appointment only, so please call in advance for directions and to make sure someone is available.