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A Field Guide to Western Birds: A Completely New Guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guides) Hardcover – May 15, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.
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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Field Guides
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Third Edition edition (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395911745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395911747
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 4.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I just got the 3rd ed. of Petersons to replace my ancient copy. Although I was tempted by the newer National Geographic guide, the illustrations in Petersons, with the birds posed consistently and without distracting backgrounds, looks cleaner and less confusing. Peterson's paintings also emphasize patterns, rather than rendering every feather, making them more useful in identification. The book's shortcoming is that the range maps are grouped at the back, rather than with the text and pictures. On the other hand, these maps are larger and more detailed than the maps in the nationwide guides. Overall, while the NGS is a beautiful book, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have both, I think Peterson is still the best for its stated purpose of identifying birds in the field.
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Format: Paperback
The Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds is the best such guide you will find. The nice thing about birds and birding is that there are few enough species out there that you can get virtually all of them in one regional guide.
This book is outstanding. It relies on illustrations rather than photographs to show markings and other details used to ID birds in the field. I find that photos are often sub-standard, not showing characters essential for identifying birds due to the position of the bird, markings of the individual chosen for inclusion in the book, etc.
In this book each entry includes a bird's common and scientific names, a brief physical description of the body and coloration, a drawing(s) of the bird, a brief description of habitats where they are likely to be seen, a blip about their geographic distribution, notes on their song, and reference to similar species (if any). The entry also refers the reader to a map number that shows the summer and winter ranges for each bird.
This is "the bird book" to have for western birds for the novice and experienced birder alike. If you've never had much luck figuring out which birds you are looking at try this book.
5 stars only because that's the highest rating possible.
Note: if you travel much throughout the USA, you ought to pick up the Peterson Guide to Eastern Birds as well -- it is the sister book to this one. With both of those books in hand you will be in good birding shape.
Alan Holyoak, Dept of Biology, Manchester College, IN
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Often called the birdwatcher's "bible," Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guides revolutionized bird identification and started a series of books on everything from Atmosphere to Wildflowers. It is still one of the best tools for bird identification, especially for those just learning how to recognize different birds. Its text is straightforward, consistent, and well-organized, and the illustrations are unsurpassed. Taxonomic (name and species) changes will come and go, and no book is going to be able to keep up with all of them for very long. Fall birding will always be challenging, but this is still the best book to have if you only want to carry one.
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Format: Paperback
This is the late Mr Peterson's best book and his most beautiful. The information supplied here is exhaustive. The paintings are worth the price of admission alone. Each picture is beautiful and so full of detail that even photographers might have a difficult time duplicating them. Also, the paintings serve as better illustration of field marks than photography. This is a grand book for the beginning birder and experienced birder alike. *****
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Format: Paperback
Field guides come and go, but Roger Tory Peterson remains the master. While it would be nice to have an update, encompassing the latest information on classification and new arrivals, for 99% of the birders 99% of the time, Peterson is indispensable!
I started using Peterson guides in 1950 and have bought every update since. Never once have I failed to find a bird which I saw clearly in these books. I would not think of birding anywhere in the U. S. without a Peterson guide in my pocket.
The range maps are located at the back of the book instead of with the text, which is a minor drawback. But the key to the book's success is Peterson's paintings, which are precise and accurate in a way which no other painter has equaled and no photographer can hope to achieve.
Peterson is tops! Accept no substitutes!
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Format: Vinyl Bound
I've got the Stokes guides - Western Birds, Hawks and Buteos, and Nests of Western Birds. I have borrowed some other books that have photos instead of artwork. I FAR prefer the Peterson guide. With photos you have to worry about color-rendering, trueness, et al.

With Peterson's guide that's not a worry. I have yet to find a bird that did not very closely match the artwork, which could be another book in itself (coffee table-type book).

The only exceptions to this would be in the instance of birds like Red-tailed Hawks, who have a great variety of coloration. I'm buying another copy because I've lost my first. Lament, chagrin, because I've marked my observations in the old book (back of the book). The maps are another excellent feature which have helped me determine exactly what I'm looking at.

With this book and a pair of good binoculars, a little patience, the whole of the Pacific flyway will be opened up to you.
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