So after checking Sibley’s Eastern Birds (post is located here – http://wp.me/p3Q2lz-3M ) to get a good overview of a uncommon bird, I then turn to Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion to get a more detailed look.
And detail is what you will get in Dunne’s humorous style. As with other books I will save a more detailed review for another day, but let me say this is the book I enjoy using the most. As he states in the intro, this is a field guide helper. There are no pictures because, as he states, there are enough excellent field guides with pictures. Field guides by their nature are limited in text. But this book is not limited in the amount of text, so he has space to describe things in great detail, often painting a vivid picture in my head of the bird and its habitat. Details a field guide doesn’t have the space to give.
For example, he devotes an entire page to the Winter Wren. Of course you should read the entire page, but for now we are interested in two sections, Habitat and Behavior. The Habitat section basically backs up what Sibley described, “in winter, inhabits a variety of woodlands, especially wet woodlands,… ” He then goes on describing the variety of wet woodlands Winter Wren can be found. With each one a possible spot to check pops into my head.
The Behavior section starts out with “a feathered mouse that moves, close to, or on the ground, in short rapid hops from brush pile to uprooted tree stump to discarded refrigerator… ” The last bit about the refrigerator is great. I know exactly what type of habitat he means having seen discarded appliances in ravines. That is the type of clue he gives and I love about the book. The ability to present such a great image for me.
He then goes on to give more characteristics and details but two points stand out. One, the bird is almost never seen foraging in bushes or trees. So don’t check there. And second, it responds well to pishing and owl calls. I have found he is extremely accurate in his comments about pishing for birds. In this case I now know to keep pishing for a Winter Wren. On other species I know from reading Dunne to try once or twice and if no response, move on. It has saved me much time in the field.
As you can tell I am a great fan of this book. I just wish there was more to write about each species, but there is only so much that can be written.
From reading Dunne’s we now have a better picture of where to find Winter Wrens and the behaviors the bird will be demonstrating. But once again, as stated before, there is limited habitat on public grounds in Johnson County that make a match for Winter Wren habitat. But I’ll keep searching in 2014.