Chester Reed

Frank Chapman’s illustrator was also responsible for his own series of pocket sized guides for beginning birders. Two oddly shaped little books appeared in 1905 and 1906,  published by Doubleday. They were long and narrow, about the size of a checkbook, each simply titled Bird Guide; one covered waterbirds, game birds, and raptors, and the other covered songbirds of North American from the Great Plains east. Each page had a color painting and a short text describing the birds’ plumage, voice and range.

Reed’s guides were a sensation, becoming, almost overnight, the most popular guidebooks for anyone beginning to watch birds. The price probably had something to do with it; at just seventy-five cents per volume, they were within the reach of most people, whereas Franks Chapman’s earlier book cost more than three times as much. They were easy to use, fun to read, not too intimidating in their scope, and people gobbled them up. For most bird enthusiasts, they presented an easy first step into birding.

There’s a site here with more information about Reed and all of his publications, if you would like to learn more.