From Library Journal
Created as a companion to field guides, this encyclopedic avian natural history is the print version of the previously issued CD-ROM Peterson Multimedia Guides: North American Birds. Organized like the CD-ROM, the book presents 600 species of birds in taxonomic order and groups them by family. Small color photographs and range maps accompany concise, plain-language information regarding nesting, feeding, migration, courtship, habitat, clutch size, and conservation status. Upping the included species to 900 are brief descriptions of nonendemic vagrant birds. The omission of additional ornithological topics makes this reference quick to use and sets it apart from comprehensive sources such as The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of American Birds, but the similar coverage found in Paul R. Ehrlich's The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds (S. & S., 1988) would satisfy this niche as well.?Frank Reiser, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This unique book is a by-product of the CD-ROM Peterson Multimedia Guides
: North American Birds
. In producing this CD-ROM, the compilers discovered that there was no book that gave the life histories of birds in general. To remedy this, Kaufman expanded the descriptions of birds' lives that he developed for the Multimedia Guides
to produce this beautifully organized book for the layperson. As he states in his acknowledgements, "Although there have been many multimedia products based on books, probably few books besides this one have started off in CD-ROM form."
Bird-watchers have relied on the Peterson Guides over the years to identify birds, giving names, habitat, descriptions, and distribution information. However, no guide has gone that additional step to describe what the bird is doing at the time it is being observed. Many scientific articles about birds do describe "what they are doing" in technical terms. Kaufman has translated all this information into layperson's language.
The book is organized so that when a particular page is consulted, it is easy to understand without referrring to other parts of the book. Each family has a brief overview that describes the bird and its feeding, nesting, and displaying characteristics. Additional information is given for the genus, followed by detailed facts about each species. This information includes a full-color photograph; a distribution map; habitat, feeding, nesting, and migration data; and conservation status, all in a concise, easy-to-read text. Illustrations, which were taken from the CD-ROM, are clear but small, with only one per species. Of particular interest is information on certain behavior and movement characteristics, which includes how food is acquired, how young are fed, mating rituals, what the young look like and how soon they leave the nest, and how they interact with other species in the competition for food and nesting sites. Additionally, there may be information on specific species about territory claiming, social aspects, songs and calls, pairing, courtship, eggs, clutch size, incubation, number of broods per year, what they eat, how they find food, molting, roosting, and life span.
Part of the Peterson Natural History Companion series, this is a must-have book to supplement any field guide. It could be used as a general field guide, although it is too big to fit into a coat pocket. It is a good alternative to field guides in a reference collection because it provides expanded information in a convenient, attractive format. Recommended for all bird-watchers and all libraries.