A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)





© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 204, 2015. All rights reserved.

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.


Book Reviews

The best local sources of bird books may be Wild Birds Unlimited, at 71 Brookwood Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (576-0861) and Copperfield's Books (stores in Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol).



  1.   Bay Area Birds: From Sonoma County to Monterey Bay

By David Lukas

Lukas Guides, 2012

In-depth review

Covers 320 species that live in the San Francisco Bay area or pass through during migration, 221 of these in detail, with essays on life history and range. Gives much useful information about when and where you're likely to see the birds you're most likely to encounter in the area. No illustrations--which means this book may be appreciated more by experienced birders that already know what they're looking at. Although the book is the size of a small field guide, it is not intended as an identification guide. Useful as supplementary information.  (If you're heading into the mountains, look also for Lukas's Sierra Nevada Birds.)

  1. The Warbler Guide

By Tom Stephenson and Scott Whitttle

Princeton University Press, 2013

In-depth review

An entirely new approach to identifying the wood warblers. Authors Stephenson and Whittle work on the assumption that most of the time we’re trying to identify difficult warblers based on fleeting, partial views or on auditory information. The book uses “quick finders” to facilitate an initial guess about an unknown bird. Species entries are illustrated with numerous photographs at all angles. These main entries are surrounded by data for species most likely to be correct if the user’s initial hypothesis is incorrect. The book makes heavy use of sonograms as well, also arranged so that similar species information surrounds the information in each main entry.

  1. Rare Birds of North America

By Steve N. G. Howell, Ian Lewington, Will Russell (illus.)

Princeton University Press, 2014

In-depth review

A comprehensive guide to vagrants that have been recorded in North America through 2011 (and into 2012 in a few instances). Beautifully illustrated with 275 color plates. Covers 262 species not normally at home in North America--birds that have strayed here from Eurasia, the New World tropics, and the oceans of the world. There is much useful discussion of why vagrants end up where they do, with a focus on migration patterns and how normal bird movements relate to records of vagrancy in North America. Detailed species accounts emphasize field identification.   

  1. The Passenger Pigeon

By Eroll Fuller

Princeton University Press, 2015

In-depth review

A memorial of sorts to the existence of Ectopistes migratoria, the Passenger Pigeon, published more or less on the 100th anniversary of that bird’s extinction. Not a scholarly treatise. The author calls his book rather a celebration of the bird's existence and a reminder of the fragility of the natural world. Beautifully illustrated, and including an especially attractive section on the Passenger Pigeon in art and books, The Passenger Pigeon serves that purpose well.