Do you foresee writing more books in the future and if so, on what subject matter?

For better or worse, writing is as much part of my being as is watching birds. There are several book projects I’m working on, some of them further out in the future but a couple that I’m hoping to be finished with in the next year or so. First, I’m working (and have been for several years) with Will Russell and the British illustrator Ian Lewington on a book provisionally entitled Rare Birds of North America, to be published by Princeton University Press. It’s about the identification and vagrancy patterns of birds that occur, on average, fewer than five times a year in the U.S. and Canada. It’s interesting to put together records and see patterns, both within a species and shared patterns among different species. Basically, Will asked me to help out on his project by doing seabirds and tropical species, and he’s doing the Old World vagrants.


Steve with Royal Albatross on Campbell Island

I’m also working on a photographic guide to Albatrosses and Petrels of North America (south to Panama), again with Princeton University Press. This is 98% written and has been for a couple of years, and I’m just trying to find the time to finish it up (first I have to get Rare Birds out of the way) and get all the photos together. And you can bet I’m treating “band-rumped” storm-petrel as multiple species and Leach’s as three species!


Which do you like more, chocolate, writing, or watching birds?

I’m sorry but I can’t list these three in any order – it’s like trying to write a taxonomic list, it can’t be done on a two-dimensional sheet of paper. I like birds and birding and words and wording about equally. And chocolate is a staple food – the vital brown food group. One of the great things about being an “adult” is that you can eat chocolate for breakfast with nobody to tell you it’s wrong, and you can do it while watching birds and thinking about words. And if you’re doing that on a boat out at sea … life doesn’t get any better.