"Birds of the Lake Erie Region," by Carolyn V. Platt, photography by Gary Meszaros (Kent State University Press, $28.00)
Dust off your binoculars, and focus on this recent release from Kent State University Press. Bursting with gorgeous, vibrant photography, "Birds of the Lake Erie Region" is a wonderful resource for the aspiring ornithologist.
The myriad photos of Erie's avian wildlife were taken by Gary Meszaros -- a nature photographer whose pictures have appeared in publications such as Smithsonian and National Wildlife -- over a period of 25 years. The book's clear and informative text was written by Carolyn V. Platt, a professor of English at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. Meszaros and Platt have collaborated before on "Creatures of Change: An Album of Ohio Animals," which examined more than 200 years of the state's wildlife.
With its glossy pages and attractive layout, the book would be ideal for the coffee table; however, it is also a worthwhile source of information. Using the book as a guide, birders should have an easier time identifying area birds. Plus, Platt includes valuable details about the migration waves of birds in the Lake Erie region, and she outlines "the major effects of the lake itself on both resident birds and migrants."
Follows the seasons: The book is divided into six chapters, covering topics such as "Birds and Ice," "Landbird Fallout" and "Area Nesters." Beginning and ending with winter, the book roughly follows the seasons. Each chapter concludes with a short list of additional reading, which is a nice touch and gives the interested reader a place to start looking for more-specialized bird books.
For local readers, the best aspect of the book -- if you exclude Meszaros's wonderful photographs -- may be its appendix, which lists some of the "most significant and consistently rewarding" birding spots surrounding Lake Erie. The appendix also includes a map of the lake that labels each of those spots.
Some of the featured locations are not exactly in our back yard. (Several are on the northern coast of Erie, in Ontario.) However, a few are relatively close and may make a nice day trip for local birders: Presque Isle State Park near Erie, Pa.; Conneaut Marsh in Meadville, Pa.; Headland Dunes and Mentor March State Nature Preserve in Mentor; and Conneaut Harbor in downtown Conneaut.

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