SARANAC LAKE - Two of the Adirondack Park region's most skilled birders have collaborated on the first comprehensive guidebook to birding hot spots in the region.
John M.C. Peterson of Elizabethtown and Gary N. Lee of Inlet drew on decades of experience in selecting the sites described in Adirondack Birding: 60 Great Places to Find Birds, recently released by Lost Pond Press ($20.95, softcover, 240 pages).
The book is being distributed by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), the Park's largest environmental organization, with 30,000 members.
"Like ADK's line of hiking guidebooks and maps, Adirondack Birding provides all the information needed to find trails and locations that are great birding hot spots," said John Kettlewell, ADK's publications and marketing director.
Birders will be able to use the guidebook to search for the Park's most-coveted species, including boreal birds not found in the state outside the Adirondacks as well as uncommon winter visitors and rare migrants.
"It's the indispensable guide to birding in the Adirondacks by two of the best birders around," said John Thaxton, the "Birdwatch" columnist for the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. "Beautifully designed and illustrated."
Adirondack Birding contains 46 color photographs of wild birds taken by Jeff Nadler, one of the region's premier bird photographers. They include the Park's boreal species, such as the Bicknell's thrush, gray jay, rusty blackbird and spruce grouse, and other birds of interest, such as the bald eagle and common loon. The book also has more than 90 black-and-white photos of birds and landscapes. Many of the landscape shots were taken by Carl Heilman II, one of the Park's most celebrated photographers.
Other features include a history of Adirondack birding, tips on finding boreal birds, an Index of Birds, and hand-drawn maps by Matthew Paul, a Saranac Lake artist. The site chapters not only list resident birds, but they also include records of rare sightings (such as the yellow-nosed albatross that flew over Crown Point in 1994).
Peterson, the longtime regional editor of The Kingbird, an ornithological journal, and Lee, a retired forest ranger, have been birding in the Adirondacks since the 1960s. Both contributed to the Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, published by Cornell University Press in 1988, as well as its successor, which was scheduled to be released in December.
In 2004, the authors collaborated on Birds of Hamilton County, N.Y., a brochure that lists all the species observed in the county, with dates and locations. Peterson also has authored or edited similar compilations for Franklin and Essex counties.
But both saw a need for a guidebook that covered the whole 6-million-acre Park and that offered detailed descriptions of sites and their birding potential.
"Hardly a day passes without someone posting a query on birding chat lines asking for directions or suggestions," Peterson said. "Where's this Noblewood place? Any good birding spots near Lake Placid? How do I find a gray jay? Adirondack Birding has the answers."
"The book will show people many of the great places in the Adirondacks to see birds, including some sites few know about," Lee said. "It should take pressure off some of the more popular areas."
Most of the 60-plus sites described in the book are in the Champlain Valley (such as Crown Point and Noblewood Park), the Tri-Lakes Region (including the High Peaks) or the boreal lowlands in the northwestern Adirondacks (such as Massawepie Mire), since these are the places that attract the species of most interest to birders. However, there are some sites in the southern Adirondacks as well.
Adirondack Birding may be purchased in stores or on the Lost Pond and ADK websites.