Next to birding, one of my hobbies which bring me the most joy is my collection of bird books in general and specifically old field guides. In 1934 Roger Tory Peterson published what is considered the first "modern" field guide. The first printing of this seminal work of 2000 copies sold out within one week. This guide is still being updated and still in print. This was a pretty good indication to even the most clueless that there was a tremendous demand for good birding field guides; the rush was on!
The field guide being reviewed here is the 1946 Audubon Bird Guide of Eastern Land Birds. This book went through a reprint in 1949. It is cloth bound and has a total of 48 color plates. It attempts to cover the birds of Eastern and Central North America from Southern Texas to Central Greenland. It was published by Richard H. Pough and sponsored by the National Audubon Society.
Now I am reviewing this work more in historical context than the current practicality and usefulness of the book as an actual field guide. I have, as I write this, no less than seven modern field guides covering the same group of birds and the same geographical locations. These modern guides are the best you can get at this point in history and to be frank, there is little to no comparison to this early Audubon attempt and what I have in my bird book stash at the present time. Does this make this work worthless though? I think not.
Birding has come a long, long way over the past three or four decades and we continue to make progress. Since the late 1960s through the mid 1990s we have lived through the golden age of birding. We have never had access to so many birds with so much high tech equipment and so much freedom to travel as we "had" during that time period.Read more ›