Easy-to-use guide displays Kansas birds in stunning photos, reveals best birding spots
LAWRENCE -- With exceptional habitat diversity and its key location at the hub of the Northern Hemisphere's migration corridors, Kansas is a bird-watcher's paradise. More than 470 avian species have been documented within its borders. From spectacularly beautiful birds such as painted buntings to elegant migrants such as Hudsonian godwits, birders can find abundant rewards every time they take to the field.

A new book, The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots, focuses on 295 species most likely to be encountered in the state. It helps occasional day-trippers or backyard observers identify and learn about birds that regularly occur in Kansas, with stunning color photos that enable those new to the hobby to identify their discoveries. Tips on where to search for these species are also included.

Co-authors Bob Gress and Pete Janzen, with a foreword by Kenn Kaufman, have produced a guide that divides birds into 18 groups based on similarity in appearance, habitat, or behavior, following taxonomic order only partially to make identification easier for the beginner. The entry for each bird gives its size, identifying features (including sexual and seasonal distinctions), and where and when it can be found. Each account includes a brilliant color photo of an adult of the species, with additional views of selected birds to illustrate male, female, or juvenile plumages.

"This is a delightful and authoritative introduction to Kansas birds with a wealth of information on how and where to find them," said William H. Busby, coauthor of Kansas Breeding Bird Atlas.

The authors point out the best birding locations in the state -- more than two dozen hotspots of which they have intimate knowledge and that reflect different bird communities thriving only a few hours apart. The book also provides a checklist for all state birds, a calendar of Kansas bird activity, and recommendations for binoculars and other field guides.

Gress is director of the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita and coauthor of Faces of the Great Plains: Prairie Wildlife and Watching Kansas Wildlife: A Guide to 101 Sites. His wildlife photography has appeared in many publications.

Janzen is active in the Kansas Ornithological Society and the Wichita Audubon Society and is author of The Birds of Sedgwick County and Cheney Reservoir, as well as numerous articles on Kansas birds.

Kaufman is author of the popular Kaufman Focus Guides, which focus on birds and butterflies in North America, and is the recipient of the American Birding Association's prestigious Ludlow Griscom Award.

The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots is available in paperback (ISBN# 978-0-7006-1565-0) for $19.95 and contains 368 pages, 351 color photographs, and one color map. For more information, phone Ranjit Arab, University Press of Kansas, at 785-864-9170, or email