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Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song Hardcover – September 21, 2006

322 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Drawing from the collection of the world-renowned Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Songs presents the most notable North American birds—including the rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker—in a stunning new format. Renowned bird biologist Les Beletsky provides a succinct description of each of the 250 birds profiled, with an emphasis on their distinctive songs. Lavish full-color illustrations accompany each account, while a sleek, built-in digital audio player holds 250 corresponding songs and calls. In his foreword, North American bird expert and distinguished natural historian Jon L. Dunn shares insights gained from a lifetime of passionate study. Complete with the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information, Bird Songs is the first book to capture the enchantment of these beautiful birds in words, pictures, and song. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, located in Ithaca, New York, is a nonprofit institution focused on birds and whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research. The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab is the major source of sound recordings of birds for research, education, conservation, the media, and commercial products.

From Booklist

Here are splendid color illustrations of 250 species of birds, some showing only the male and others showing both the male and female. Drawing from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the book is divided into four parts: seabirds, shorebirds, and water birds; forest birds; woodland birds; and open-country birds. With each illustration is a description of the bird's range in the U.S and Canada and its ecology and behavior. The profiles emphasize the birds' vocalizations--both songs and calls--which can be heard on an audio component that comes with the book. By using this digital audio technology, readers will be able to relate the songs and calls to the birds' appearances. Beletsky, a notable bird biologist, has written a fascinating book that will aid bird-watchers. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932855416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932855418
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.1 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Les Beletsky is a professional wildlife biologist and former university biology teacher. Prior to taking up full-time writing, he conducted many years of field research into the ecology and behavior of birds, publishing many scientific reports and two technical books on birds. An avid global birder and ecotraveler, he has visited numerous sites in the Americas, Africa, Asia and in the Australian region. He currently makes his home in Seattle, Washington.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

202 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Waite Group on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps I am not the best person to review the quality and accuracy of the songs in this book/audio player (I would leave that to Rick Johnson of Osprey Ridge Studios who created the Hearbirds Course on CD available at [..] but as the former publisher of Waite Group Press [..] I must say that this is one of the most innovative and fun to use products to appear in book publishing in a long time.

The way its put together is really creative - the electronic device glued strongly to the back cover is available at all times as you turn the pages. The system is minimalist which is its real charm. - a rocker switch increments an odometer like counter up or down. The number is keyed to the number on the bird page. In the middle of the rocker is a push button that starts the song playing. One more button controls the volume. That's it!

The illustrations are very nice, soft watercolors, unlike the hard edged and brighter drawings found in traditional field guides like those from Peterson and National Geographic. The descriptive text about each bird is short and to the point, my only complaint is that its gray color is not easy to read on older eyes. Yet that is minor compared to the enjoyment I got just turning the pages and pushing the button.

When I was at borders a crowd formed around me as they heard the bird calls - many thought a hawk had been trapped in the building. I highly recommend this book (and the price is right).
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145 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Casali on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reviewing "Bird Songs" is a bit like reviewing a talking horse. It's so amazing to hear it talk, one overlooks what it is saying.

The songs are wonderful; accessing them is a travesty.

There are two components to this item, the book and the player. The player is a solid state device glued to the back cover of the book. The 250 bird songs in the player are known to the player only by a reference number (1 to 250), which is shown in the player's LCD window.

To hear a song, one touches the play button once to awaken the device, then, by depressing an up or down key, you scroll to the reference number of the desired song. Pressing Play then plays a recorded snippet of the selected bird's song. In short, to hear a song, one must first know its number, and then one must find it.

And herein lies the first major flaw. It is a royal pain to find the reference number of a song. The book has a miserable index, organized alphabetically by common name, that only gives the page number of a bird. One must then go to the page to find the (different) reference number for the song. There is no simple way to relate page numbers to song numbers. And the index itself is difficult to use, as it is not only organized only by common name, but there is no grouping of similar species, so a Marsh Wren is under M and a Canyon Wren is under C. If you want to look up Loon, better look under C for Common Loon. All in tiny, light type. Arrrgh.

Once one has the reference number, the second flaw becomes obvious. Player scrolling acts much like setting a digital clock, first scrolling slowly, then quickly. The numbers wrap around, so one can get to say, 249, from 1 by going backwards. Thus, theoretically, one should never have to scroll more than 125 numbers.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Jane Anderson on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a (very) amateur birder, I am continually frustrated by hearing birds I can't see and not having a clue as to what that bird might be. This neat book links the description, the drawing AND the sound!

I think it would be an aid to more accomplished birders who try to describe bird calls to others, a joy to children just learning about birds and a help to the avian-challenged rest of us.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By reader on December 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been birding for a couple years now and I love it, but it is so confounding to hear a really interesting bird call and not know what on earth it could be. This book does for the ears what a regular field guide does for the eyes, and it helps an enthusiastic novice like me get into birding even more. Not to mention that it's just cool and very easy to use. My only wish is that they would have included more calls in each recording, as often the call in the book is a specialized mating or distress call and not necessarily the one you'd be most likely to hear in the field. But I guess they had to go with what they had, and it is quite amazing to get 250 bird calls in one volume, plus pictures and descriptions. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves birds or loves someone else who loves birds.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid Birder,have over 1000 books on birding in my collection and several tapes and other bird song recordings and recently (May 24,2007) wrote a review on "The Singing Life of Birds" by Donald Kroodsma. That book is extremely complicated,but astute and definitely one for very experienced Birders with a lot of knowledge already learned from years of studying bird song.
However;this new book is something entirely different. It is excellent for anyone who is interested,and just wants to start learning the basic songs of birds.From this book you can quite quickly,and with very little effort,get to identify any bird around your home.cottage,park or anywhere else you hear birds calling or singing.
This book takes the concept that has been employed for years with childern's book;namely pictures along with recordings to go along with them. When I first came across it,I thought it was just a kid's book for that reason. I opened it ,played a few songs ,and was immediately impressed. It covers the songs of 250 birds. Hence, just about all that a person ,who wants to learn how to identify most of the birds they are,are ever going to find locally. This book is so well conceived and put together that kids as young as a few years ,can use it as well as adults. In other words, this GEM of a book is for anyone with a interest in bird songs.
To anyone who is new to birding,here is one thing you can count on when you are wondering which one of the multitude of bird books that are on the bookshelves,should you buy. If you see the name Jon Dunn associated with it,like this is,you can be sure you are making the right choice.
I can tell you how good I think this book really is.
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