Today I tackled the shelves containing my birding field guides and the stacks of travel guides that I usually consult before a birding trip to another country. Other than actually being in the field looking at birds, here is nothing more engrossing for an enthusiastic birder than collecting birding field guides, related species accounts and reference works. These books are often accompanied with city and country travel guides for the places visited by a proposed trip.
These volumes can fill up a lot of shelf space and are constantly going out of date or being updated. Thankfully, there is now a really good digital birding guide that is available from iTunes for the Apple iPod and iPad. On my latest trips in North America I have taken the iBird Explorer Pro field guide and left my paper field guides at home.
The iBird application has pictures of birds, species accounts and range maps. It also plays birdcalls on the iPod/iPad speakers; playing birdcalls in the field can sometimes elicit responses from nearby birds. I am pretty sold on this birding application and it helps ease the pain as I select guides to remove from the library.
The Internet, smart phones and now eBook readers have also transformed the Travel Guide industry. Lonely Planet, for an example, will sell you individual chapters of their travel guides in PDF format for reading on smart phones or the iPad. This is sure to be appreciated by anyone who has taken apart a country travel guide to pare it down to the few relevant cities that will be visited on a tour. A few years back, we visited Argentina and Brazil, needing 3 birding field guides and 2 thick country travel guides. The weight and volume was too much—we settled for only the Argentina birding guide and the Buenos Aires section of a travel guide. Today, at least the travel guide is digital, maybe digital South American bird guides will be coming soon.
This first pass through my bookshelves yielded 10 out-of-date, unnecessary or superseded birding guides and 8 redundant city and country guides.
18 books added to stack.
The deaccession count: Posts 12, Books 60.