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Paperback Field Guide to the Birds of North America [With DVD ROM] Book

ISBN: 0061120405

ISBN13: 9780061120404

Field Guide to the Birds of North America [With DVD ROM]

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

This new field guide provides a suite of modern tools to effectively aid in the identification of more than 750 species of birds across North America. It introduces a "whole bird" approach by concisely gathering a collection of information about birds into one portable and well-organized volume.

2,000 stunning color photographs of birds in natural habitats show the most important field marks, regional population differences, life stages,...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Semi-useful as a field guide -- here are the details

First, I want to say that this bird book represents a fine overall effort by its author, editors, designer, photographers, devisors of range maps, and other contributors. While it has clear limitations as a field guide, it's still an excellent reference for birdwatchers. I need to provide some background here so that folks will better understand my comments regarding this new 2008 birding field guide. Field guides are used by nature lovers and natural resource professionals mostly to IDENTIFY birds, wildflowers, rocks and minerals, reptiles, trees, and any number of other creatures, plants, and non-living objects found in our natural environment. In regard to birds there are hundreds of available field guides but their numbers shrink as one either limits the geographical area that they cover, or, as the number of species in such guides expand, (e.g., from "Hawks of the U.S." to "Birds of the U.S."). In this instance we have a birder's field guide which covers all species found in the United States (including Alaska) and Canada. So, there are really only three other field guides which closely rival the instant one and they are The Sibley Guide to Birds, National Geographic Field Guide To The Birds Of North America, 4th Edition, and, Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America (Peterson Field Guides(R)). (I don't mention A Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America ["Golden Field Guide"] because it offers very limited information). This is not to say that I use the large Sibley guide while I'm out on bird hikes - I don't because it's too bulky. The National Geographic guide is just small enough to carry in the field as is the Peterson guide but, again, they offer limited information, (which is okay if all you want to do is IDENTIFY the birds). The Smithsonian guide suffers from the same perplexing size and weight problem as the large Sibley guide, albeit the former is actually 12 percent smaller than Sibley (I refer to the "large" Sibley guide because it is now also available in essentially an "eastern" and a "western" version.) Both my wife and I have been active birdwatchers for many years (her science is far superior to mine!) and we own every available birding field guide for our regions of study and duplicates of some. After hundreds of hikes, camping trips, and other bird outings, I'm pretty aware of the likes and dislikes of birders concerning field guides. The one conclusion that most of us share is that a field guide should be COMPACT and LIGHT so it can be comfortably carried in a large pocket. To achieve this we now know that field guides should be split into two volumes: Eastern U.S. and Canada, and, Western U.S. and Canada. One does not need a western guide for birding in say, Pennsylvania, so why deal with the excess bulk? That's what we'll be doing when we carry either the large Sibley guide or this one into the woods or marsh. The large Sibley Guide weighs 2 ½ pounds. The Smithsonian Guide weighs 2 pounds (I weigh

A beautiful book worthy of taking a spot on your reference shelf.

There is no doubt that this book is well worth it's price for the information it contains, but for an avid birder like myself, it's hard to not compare it to the old standby, Peterson Field Guide(R) to Eastern Birds: Fourth Edition (Peterson Field Guides). (Eastern or Western North American editions.) When I first started birding over 15 years ago, I started with a similar field guide that showed photographs of the birds rather than illustrations. While an illustrated field guide may not be as "pretty" it's much more consistent in being able to show the exact markings you will expect to see in a given species. Try to identify a fall warbler and you'll see what I mean. (Fall warblers are not as colorful as their spring counterparts which makes them much more difficult to identify.) I graduated to the Peterson's illustrated guides and have been using them faithfully ever since. In this Smithsonian edition, the images are beautiful and attempt to show the variety on male/female/juvenille/seasonal plumages. The size, wingspan, weight, typical habitat, song description and a range map are included on every page of every species. Peterson's guides make you flip to the back of the book for the range maps and this is much easier. Songs on the DVD go from species to species without an announcement of what species you hearing, unlike the other CD's of bird songs that I've listened to. If you are listening to the songs on an MP3 player, or in a program like Windows Media player, images of the current vocalizing bird display as album art which is a nice touch. Even if you aren't listening to specifically learn the birds, it's very pretty to hear the songs run from one to the next, like being in the woods with them. The book includes a description of each family at the beginning of each section. There is also a species checklist at the back of the book. One thing I missed in this book are the bird of prey silhouette images from Peterson's book. The silhouettes are very helpful for bird of prey identification when spotting them against a sunny sky. I believe this book is too big to use as a practical field guide, both in physical size, and number of species unless you are taking a cross country bird watching expedition. I'm also not sure that the cover would hold up in the long run, as it's not as durable as the cover on the Peterson's guide. The size and weight of this book might cause it to get beat up quicker than it should. The DVD is secured to the inside of the back cover, and I personally don't like keeping a disc in a book as it makes the book hard to handle. This might be petty, but when I tried to remove the disc pouch, it was very secure and caused me to tear up the inside back cover. All in all, I'm still giving it 5 stars for the amount of information you get for the money. It's a beautiful book worthy of taking a spot on your reference shelf.


While I certainly do not consider myself an expert birder, I have been active in this wonderful pastime for around fifty years now. I do spend quite a lot of time in the field and my wife and I do travel quite a lot, she perusing her interests and mine. My first field guide was the old Roger Tory Peterson publication; actually it was the 1941 edition, which I still have. My goodness, we have come along way. This new Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds is an absolute delight to use and a delight to the eye and ear. It is a rather large and heavy book, quite a lot larger than your average guide and weighs probably close to two pounds. This may not seem like much on a short stroll through the park, but it is of major consideration when spending day after day in the field, much of it walking. That cannot be helped though, as the size is indeed needed to record the plethora of information found between its covers. The book is well bound, which is very important. I have had more than one guide over the years that I have completely destroyed simply from over use and dragging in through the bush. I must admit that I have not had this particular book long enough to truly abuse it, but I suspect that it will hold up better than most. A day or two crouching in a swamp should tell that tale. The book is arranged in order of families and not color or general habitat, which may take some getting use to for the beginning birder. This is really of minor concern though and of little moment. Each species addressed in this book is covered by some of the best bird photographs I have seen in any field guide at any time. In most cases we get a photograph of the female, male and juvenile. In addition, when appropriate there is a photo of the bird in molt and out. All of these photographs are of top quality. There is a range map provided with each species which covers breeding, winter, year-round, migration and rare ranges. This is most useful. As another reviewer pointed out, we are in a very dynamic period of flux at this time and some bird ranges are going through drastic changes. A current range map is quite necessary and this work provides that. Information given on each species includes measurements and average weights, molt periods, differences between mature and adult birds, geographic variations, if any and a nice written example of their call, which I find most accurate. Many of the photographs feature the bird in both flight (very helpful) and setting. Both the common name and the scientific name are given. Each bird is given its ABA Code for each area, again, most useful. There is a nicely written and informative introduction to each family of birds. There are many little side notes of interest sprinkled here and there throughout the book addressing particular problems of identification of particular birds. Of course there is the DVD which includes 587 recordings and is completely down loadable. This is a very nice DVD and the

Excellent North American photographic field guide

As a companion to the better artwork illustated field guides such as National Geographic's, Sibley's or Peterson's, this photographic guide is a very worthwhile addition. It is the proper field-size and covers the important identification points, excellent up-to-date maps, interesting sidebars of relevant information, sizes in inches and weight in pounds and ounces (tired metric measurements?), brief summary of voice and an excellent included DVD with 587 downloadable birdsongs. All photos are excellent and usefully descriptive by sex and age or seasonal plumage and important subspecies. Highly recommended!
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