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Birds of North America: A Guide To Field Identification (Golden Field Guide f/St. Martin's Press) Paperback – April 14, 2001
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About the Author
Golden Guides first appeared in 1949 and quickly established themselves as authorities on subjects from Natural History to Science. Relaunched in 2000, Golden Guides from St. Martin's Press feature modern, new covers as part of a multi-year, million-dollar program to revise, update, and expand the complete line of guides for a new generation of students.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, however, the ornithological powers that be are constantly lumping and splitting species, rendering field guides at least somewhat obsolete overnight. Consequently, these books must be updated periodically so as to be optimally useful to birders. The Golden guide was last updated during the 1980s, and was long overdue for a makeover.
Happily, this has finally been provided. And indeed, this revised version of the guide is (for the moment) up to date regarding the various lumps and splits that have gone into effect over the past decade. Some of the "splits" are fully illustrated, as with the Canyon vs. California (formerly Brown) towhee. Some, however, are only mentioned in the text, and sometimes all too briefly. It's probably ok not to have a separate illustration of the smaller Gunnison species of the Sage grouse, but a separate illustration of the California gnatcatcher surely should have been provided. Similarly, the somewhat larger and brighter Island scrub jay should have been depicted separately from its relatives the scrub and Florida jays.
Certainly, the publishers of this revised version of the Golden guide have made an earnest effort to provide an updated and attractive entry into the increasingly crowded birding field guide competition.Read more ›
1) It has every bird you are likely to see in North America 2) Everything about a species is on one page, including illustration, description, range map, and sonogram of song (for many species) 3) Nice comparison charts of similar and confusing species 4) Range maps include migration date lines 5) True pocket size -- you will carry this book with you in the field!
The new edition also has updated nomenclature for species that the bird expert powers-that-be keep changing on us. It also has updated range maps for those species whose ranges are changing. It is printed on a slicker stock than the previous (only time will tell if this is better). It also has a new "quick" index which is handy for locating birds by generic name (crows).
But there are some disappointments.
1) It is probably 95% a reprint of the previous edition, both with respect to descriptions and (particularly) illustrations 2) The little check boxes to mark off birds you have seen are missing from the new edition -- surely that was an oversight(?) 3) They did not correct the one thing that was a true weakness of the previous edition, that the range maps are small and rather difficult to interpret. How much easier it would be if the US state borders were overprinted on these little range maps (or for that matter Canadian provinces and Mexican states)???
But of course, it is still our favorite -- if you have only one bird book, and you want to carry it in your pocket, this is the one to buy.
Look at the cover with the buntings: it's not just some recycled art from the interior, but a specially painted picture just for the cover. This is part of the value that the authors offer you.
More importantly, the illustrations really capture what the birds look like in real life -- to my mind better than other paintings in guides and a thousand times better than photos -- and the text is clear and to the point.
Sections that showcase winter plumage of gulls or peeps or that illustrate the heads of warblers or sparrows have the page numbers right next to each picture so you can just whip over to bird in question if you need more information.
I especially like the fact that the range maps are right next to the bird's picture so you don't have to thumb to some inconvenient map index the back of the book only to find that the bird is never present in your area. Everything is right there to help you make a quick identification.
The current St. Martins Press (printed in China) edition is a disgrace as a birders field guide. I have been a hobby birder for 40 years and cut my teeth on the Golden Field Guids since the 1966 edition and replacing my guide with the 1983 printing. The color in these books were superb.
The current guide's color is pale and washed out loosing a lot of bird features and badly off-color that an experienced birder would have difficulty in matching their sighting with anything in this book, let alone getting a beginning birder off to an encouraging experience using this printing (China must not understand bird coloration as seen in previous "Western Publishing" edition.) The bird images are very light so details are lost compared to bird's true colors, the images all seem to have a green tint. --- I've never seen a green (white) bird. The location maps do not have enough background shading to outline the North America map.
What a shame to have such a good field guild as the Golden Field Guide bird series reputation ruined by the issuing of this edition by St. Martins Press. And worse yet to have the Press claim that previous quality and integrity are being maintained. This is a rip off publication.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The scans of Arthur Singer's beautiful plates are sharp and fairly good in color, a bit t too yellow and pale sometimes. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Dave Czaplak
Good product. good price, VERY FAST and reasonable shipping.Published 19 days ago by David R. Sukow