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Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide (Princeton Field Guides) Paperback – October 11, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


One of Joel Lerner's (The Washington Post) The Year's Best Gardening Books

"The ultimate handbook to accompany you in the field or while bird watching at home. . . . [A]n excellent visual reference for the identification of birds."--Joel Lerner, Washington Post

"Brian Small and co-author Paul Sterry have taken the photo-based field guide to a new level. Their new books are beautifully designed and well written. Photos are tack-sharp, and tightly cropped, giving close-up views of each bird."--Matt Mendenhall, Birder's World

"Whether you are a birding fanatic or someone who enjoys looking in their backyard to see what shows up, there is a new bird guide that will fill your need. . . . With great photos of more than 500 species, this is a wonderful photographic guide making identification of birds that much easier. Both the Eastern and Western versions are great gift ideas."--Ken Moran, New York Post

"The large, excellent photos, combined with the overall design, make this probably the most attractive general field guide I've seen. . . . This is the first field guide that I would recommend to bird photography aficionados solely on the merit of the pictures, irrespective of its value as a field guide. Finally, the exceptional, large photographs make these an attractive primary field guide option for new and burgeoning birders."--Grant McCreary, Birder's Library

"These guides will be most useful for intermediate level birders."--Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report

"Excellent state-of-the art digital photos and comprehensive, up-to-date data on North American birds. . . . Comparable guides include Ted Floyd's Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America and Edward Brinkley's National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Field Guide to Birds of North America. All three titles are excellent. However, the Sterry-Small guide's larger photos aid identification and highlight variable plumage. Corner insets identify groups of birds for easier browsing. Birders will love the portability, excellent photography, habitat, and conservation information."--Sally Bickley, Library Journal

"This pair of photographic guides provides superb quality photographic images which are well up to the best of modern standards. If your American photo-guides are a few years old, now is the time to update them. The text is surprisingly detailed and concisely covers all plumages, as well as 'Status and Habitat,' 'Voice,' and 'Observation tips,' and the distribution maps are detailed and clear. These are now the best photographic guides for North America and exceptional value-for-money too."--Steve Gantlett, Birding World

"Flat-out gorgeous. We see the birds standing, swimming and in flight. There's the usual field buide-style information--maps of their range, what they sound like, etc.--but this book seems to make things uniquely clear."--Sandy Bauers, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide and Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide should be a welcome addition to the libraries of serious birders as well as those who enjoy birdwatching only from their own backyard feeders. . . . I recommend both books."--Brad Sylvester, Manchester Bird Watching Examiner

"The photos in these books are large, crisp and clear. . . . They are durable field guides that easily slip into a backpack or even a large pocket in an overcoat, but their pictures are good enough to be a coffee table book. . . . Of all the various field guides I have ever seen, these . . . are by far the best."--James Swan,

"Outstanding. . . . The photos are of such superb detail you expect them to fly off the pages."--Bill Cochran, Roanoke Times

"Stunning. This was the first word that came to mind upon cracking open these new guides. . . . The photography alone is worth owning both Eastern and Western editions. Even so, the accompanying text is fantastic too."--Eddie Callaway,

"The guides are, in a word, gorgeous--the photos are crisp (the latest digital technology captures rich detail) and the page layout is superb."--Fannie Peczenik, Pittsburgh Bird Watching Examiner

"Paul Sterry and Brian Small have created books with large, superior photos placed on pages designed to be lively and interesting. The text accompanying each species is three or four times as long as what you find in most ID books. It's pertinent and sharply written."--Jim Williams, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"I was immediately captivated by the stunning photographs. . . . This one's a keeper."--George Smith, Down

"[Birds of Eastern North America] uses 1,118 exceptional color photographs to set it apart from the many other field guides in book stores. And somehow the designer managed to increase the image size so that every species is clearly and vibrantly depicted. Many of the smaller species appear at almost life size. This guide should appeal to beginning and experienced birders alike."--Scott Shalaway, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"The Sterry-Small guides will no doubt set new benchmarks for photo quality and precise reproduction. Inset photos cover seasonal and gender variations in plumage, picture birds in flight or show groups of birds for easier identification. Sterry's well-organized descriptions offer bird-spotting tips and information on habitat, feeding styles and conservation status. Range maps compile the latest data from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology."--Valerie Sudol, New Jersey Newsroom

"A lot of clever thought went into the design of this new birding guide, and you'll find it easy to use plus especially helpful and simply jam-packed with lots of useful information."--James Drake, Southern Maryland Newspapers

"A fine pair of guides for North America. . . . Small's photos are big, bright, and tack-sharp. . . . Sterry's generous accounts supplement the accompanying photographs well. . . worthwhile acquisitions for field guide consumers and completists alike."--Mike Bergin, 10,000 Birds

"Informative and accessible text, up-to-date maps, and stunning color photographs. Images have been carefully selected to convey both the sheer beauty and the key identification features of each bird, and many of the photos are larger than those found in most other guides."--OSNA Birds

"I never used to be very keen on photographic field guides for birds until I perused these two volumes. . . . An excellent volume set for the North American birder, complete with lavish photos larger than those seen in other field guides, useful, up-to-date range maps and an easy-to-use format."--David Bird, Montreal Gazette

"The Sterry/Small guides are an innovative, useful addition to the arsenal of tools available to help us improve our birding skills. These outstanding guides deserve a place in your pocket, bookshelf, nightstand and bathroom."--Wayne Mones, Audubon Magazine web site

"The Sterry and Small field guide is good in that the photographs, which are outstanding, are quite large for a book small enough to fit into a big pocket. Colored bars with family names across the top of each page make it quick and easy to locate the warblers, wrens, etc. Range maps include all of North America, not just the eastern region. Status, habitat and observation tips are given for each species."--Marcia Davis, Knoxville News Sentinel

"Deserve a perch in your birding library. Birds of Western North America and its companion guide Birds of Eastern North America are photographic field guides, with clear, well-defined full-color photos for ease of identification."--David Buchanan, Grand Junctions Sentinel

"Sterry and Small have produced what I believe is the finest photographic field guide of eastern birds. . . . The photographs in this guide are crisp, informative and, in many cases, stunning."--Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"Compact and modestly priced, Birds of Eastern North America is a beautiful field guide (in fact, one of the best I've seen) and the top-notch photos are accompanied by oodles of informative facts and figures about the species illustrated."--Ron Tott, The Travel Editor

"Fabulous photographic field guides. . . . Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide, and its companion piece Birds of Western North America, are a tremendous addition to any library of bird identification literature. . . . Even those accustomed to an artist's illustration rather than photography to highlight identification features will find themselves reaching for these volumes time after time to confirm a field sighting of a bird in its natural habitat."--Birding Business

"Many of the more recent field guides to birds are illustrated with high-quality photographs. The present offerings, produced by well-respected authors/photographers Sterry and Small, are additional fine examples. . . . They are . . . beautiful, exceptionally well-produced volumes that will be found in most libraries with comprehensive ornithological holdings and on the shelves of many birders."--Choice

"I highly recommend these books as field guides for intermediate birders . . . and as home study guides for beginners and armchair naturalists. Of course every avid birders will want these guides as well."--Dan Kunkle, Wildlife Activist

"These indispensable guides will quickly become the preferred photographic guides for new and experienced birders alike. The clear layout will help novices easily identify the birds they see, while the superb photographs will help seasoned birders confirm identifications."--Adventure Sports Outdoors

"With these volumes, we've at last found photographic guides that are as easy to identify birds from as I.D. books that feature paintings. . . . [These] photographic guides aren't pocket size, but they're small enough that we'll carry them in the car and, with binoculars, in a pack on a serious birding outing. We expect to spend some enjoyable winter evenings browsing through them, enjoying the superb photos, and readable text, looking up old friends and preparing to meet new ones."--Bob and Linda Steiner, The Derrick

"The most impressive feature of this field guide is the photography. Each species account contains one to several photographs: most are large and sharp and clearly illustrate useful details for identification. . . . It would make a nice addition to any collection of bird guides, if nothing else for the beautiful photographs."--Amber N. Wiewel, Iowa Bird Life

"These guides are certainly worthy as a secondary field guide and photographic reference. No question, they are certainly the best photographic guides currently available."--Alan Knue, South Dakota Bird Notes

"Sterry and Small have created the best photograph based field guides I have seen for North American birds."--Michael J. Andersen, Quarterly Review of Biology

"[T]hese [two] books do have truly wonderful photographs and written descriptions that are useful in identifying and differentiating species. The guides could be especially useful to the casual birder. If you consider the cost of the paperback edition, they are an attractive, affordable addition to one's library."--Clayton M. White, Western North American Naturalist

"With the proliferation of options, choosing a good field guide is increasingly a question of personal preference. Most of my casual birder friends prefer photographic guides; most keen birders seem to prefer traditional guides with paintings. I would recommend this book for novice birders and for those wanting to supplement a more traditional guide."--Mark Gawn, Canadian Field-Naturalist

"The large, well-composed and well-edited photographs, combined with good text and range maps, may very well place these as the top photographic guides for North America."--Nathan Hentze, Discovery

"Exceptionally well done. Double-page layouts of text and maps on the left and digitally enhanced photos of the matching birds on the right make these guides easy to use in the field."--John Riutta, Bird Watcher's Digest

"Birds of Western North America and the Birds of Eastern North America are quite simply the most lavishly illustrated photographic guides to date of North American avifauna. Because of that fact, perhaps amateur and advanced birders will not object to procuring both books together when exploring such birding hot spots as the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and elsewhere."--Gene Wilhelm, Pennsylvania Birds

About the Author

Paul Sterry is a highly regarded and best-selling wildlife author and photographer. He is the author or coauthor of more than 50 books, including the "HarperCollins Complete North American Wildlife" and the "Collins Complete British Birds". Brian E. Small is a leading nature photographer and author, and the photo editor of "Birding" magazine. He has been the principal photographer for many photographic field guides, including "The Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America" (HarperCollins) and "Birds of North America" (Houghton Mifflin).


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Field Guides
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (October 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069113426X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691134260
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By David P. Tietjen on October 4, 2009
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These two new books from Princeton (I include the companion Western North America guide simultaneously released) represent the latest of the recent offerings for North American bird guides utilizing photographs to illustrate the birds, joining the National Wildlife Federation guide from 2007 and the Smithsonian guide from 2008. Bird field guides in general are based on either an artist's representations of the birds or photographs, with pros and cons for each, and the debate over which is superior goes on and on - I will not elaborate here, but I will describe some specifics for each of the three different books and thus compose a review applicable to all of them.

This new Princeton guide is the only one which divides the continent into East and West in separate volumes; both NWF and Smithsonian cover both coasts in one book, and thus are thicker (over 500 pages each) and correspondingly quite heavy. This decision of the authors/editors and publisher is another of the big bird guide debates, and again I will not try to argue which is better, but certainly there is a great deal of duplication of entries (birds found across the entire continent or right in the middle) in a 2-volume set, so simply adding the pages or weight together isn't really a fair comparison. A more appropriate distinction involves examination of the visual layout possible in each approach.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laura L. Simms on August 2, 2010
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Excellent book - this is just what we were looking for! This book has excellent photos of both mature and juvenile birds as well as male and female. We have been able to identify several birds already that we were not familiar with.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John M. Good on February 3, 2010
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This is certainly the best photo guide I have seen; the pictures are crisp and well-chosen. I have no misgivings about recommending is for a birder's library. But as a book to carry into the field, it has drawbacks. For example, there is no quick index (2 pager); you must plow through the dense, full index in fine print, useless in the field. The reader may have some trouble with diagnostic marks on the birds; I did, Nevertheless, I find myself using it frequently at home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marty on November 13, 2013
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This is by far, the best bird book for us. We are beginner, very part-time birders (still, after 3 yrs, we sometimes look at each other and say, "What was that?") and the photos in this book help us identify what we are seeing way more often than the beautifully drawn our other books. The photos are absolutely magnificent. I highly recommended this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Margaret B. Wright on March 23, 2013
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This guide came highly recommended by a friend who studied birds for his PhD and I highly recommend it for keeping handy to identify birds you see n the yard and for reading/browsing for learning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tartakd on June 9, 2014
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When you go to a birding store, there are a lot of books that cover the whole US. I don't like the idea of buying these books, unless you live in the area, where east and west meet - too much work finding the bird you are looking for. Within eastern birding books, there are 2 sub-types: based on photos and hand-drawn. Among the photo guides, this is my favorite. The authors tried to put similar birds on one page, photos are very good, juvenille and male-female distinctions are usually shown. It's very hard to make good photos of birds, especially rare ones. Lots of books are lacking in that department. This one is a pleasure to look into. Happy birding with it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tero on October 25, 2010
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There are quite a number of photo field guides out there. I still use Kaufman, but this is getting a lot of use by me for warblers and sparrows. Shorebirds and gulls look good too, but have not put those to a test.

No book is perfect. This is a really good effort, but at times I prefer illustrated guides like Sibley.

I prefer this to the recent Stokes one volume, merely for compact size and easy comparison of related species.

Beginner birders are urged to leaf through East and West before buying or get a one volume book. Generally West is west of the Rockies. It is not very well indicated here. Sometimes a West volume may cover half of Nebraska. The East does not cover American Dipper, so no Colorado and West seems to be the rule.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adobe Gardener on December 9, 2013
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Very good, easy to use general reference book for the casual backyard bird viewer. Lots of pictures, including male/female plumage and some juvenile pics. For the hawks, it includes pics of how they look as they fly overhead -- a handy reference for me since I usually only see them flying anyway. I'm not a birder but enjoy knowing what bird I'm looking at. It's organized mostly by the standard bird classifications (not by color of the feathers), but in cases where similar birds can be confused, they are on the same page, making it easier to compare them.
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