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Lives of North American Birds Flexibound – October 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Created as a companion to field guides, this encyclopedic avian natural history is the print version of the previously issued CD-ROM Peterson Multimedia Guides: North American Birds. Organized like the CD-ROM, the book presents 600 species of birds in taxonomic order and groups them by family. Small color photographs and range maps accompany concise, plain-language information regarding nesting, feeding, migration, courtship, habitat, clutch size, and conservation status. Upping the included species to 900 are brief descriptions of nonendemic vagrant birds. The omission of additional ornithological topics makes this reference quick to use and sets it apart from comprehensive sources such as The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of American Birds, but the similar coverage found in Paul R. Ehrlich's The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds (S. & S., 1988) would satisfy this niche as well.?Frank Reiser, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This unique book is a by-product of the CD-ROM Peterson Multimedia Guides: North American Birds. In producing this CD-ROM, the compilers discovered that there was no book that gave the life histories of birds in general. To remedy this, Kaufman expanded the descriptions of birds' lives that he developed for the Multimedia Guides to produce this beautifully organized book for the layperson. As he states in his acknowledgements, "Although there have been many multimedia products based on books, probably few books besides this one have started off in CD-ROM form."

Bird-watchers have relied on the Peterson Guides over the years to identify birds, giving names, habitat, descriptions, and distribution information. However, no guide has gone that additional step to describe what the bird is doing at the time it is being observed. Many scientific articles about birds do describe "what they are doing" in technical terms. Kaufman has translated all this information into layperson's language.

The book is organized so that when a particular page is consulted, it is easy to understand without referrring to other parts of the book. Each family has a brief overview that describes the bird and its feeding, nesting, and displaying characteristics. Additional information is given for the genus, followed by detailed facts about each species. This information includes a full-color photograph; a distribution map; habitat, feeding, nesting, and migration data; and conservation status, all in a concise, easy-to-read text. Illustrations, which were taken from the CD-ROM, are clear but small, with only one per species. Of particular interest is information on certain behavior and movement characteristics, which includes how food is acquired, how young are fed, mating rituals, what the young look like and how soon they leave the nest, and how they interact with other species in the competition for food and nesting sites. Additionally, there may be information on specific species about territory claiming, social aspects, songs and calls, pairing, courtship, eggs, clutch size, incubation, number of broods per year, what they eat, how they find food, molting, roosting, and life span.

Part of the Peterson Natural History Companion series, this is a must-have book to supplement any field guide. It could be used as a general field guide, although it is too big to fit into a coat pocket. It is a good alternative to field guides in a reference collection because it provides expanded information in a convenient, attractive format. Recommended for all bird-watchers and all libraries. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Natural History Companions
  • Flexibound: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1St Edition edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618159886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618159888
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,317,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kenn Kaufman is a legend among birders. A field editor for AUDUBON and a regular contributor to every major birding magazine, he is the youngest person ever to receive the Ludlow Griscom Award, the highest honor of the American Birding Association. His natural history pursuits have taken him to all seven continents, but he has made a special study of North American birds. His books include KINGBIRD HIGHWAY, LIVES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS, the PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO ADVANCED BIRDING, in addition to originating the KAUFMAN FIELD GUIDE series, which includes books on birds, butterflies, mammals, and insects. He resides in Rocky Ridge, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By I. Westray on April 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The real advantage of Kenn Kaufman's book is its accessibility. Next to the Birder's Handbook, which tried several funky organizational and icongraphic systems at once, Kaufman is pure readability. The attractive, intelligent presentation here is immediately appealing. This serves double duty as a coffee table book and reference.
I read both this and the Birder's Handbook when I see something new. Kaufman gives you a solid account of each bird, but he's limited to individual species. (There are brief family introductions, written about at the level of the family intros in a field guide.) The essays in Birder's Handbook are very pleasing to browse into; in Kaufman, once you've read a species, you're on to another species. Kaufman has nothing to say, for example, about mobbing behavior. Birder's Handbook has a long essay, naming several species and discussing the state of research on the subject.
Kaufman is also less clear about what's missing about a bird. Birder's Handbook is held to its schematic approach, so you immediately know when there's a question mark in a location that's usually got a little symbol. Kaufman occasionally mentions that something isn't well known, but you have to read into the essay to find that.
As complements to a field guide, both this and The Birder's Handbook are useful and enjoyable. I personally wouldn't be happy without either one.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Kenn Kaufmann has provided a nice, highly readable, first place to look for general information on any North American bird. The information provided is somewhat more extensive, in most cases, than can be found in similar Birder's Handbook by Ehrlich, Dobkin, and Wheye. Unfortunately, however, Kaufmann omitted notes and bibilographical information (which were included in the Birder's Handbook). Had the bibliographical information been included, this book would easily have rated 5 stars. As it is, the reader is frustrated in the search for more detailed information. I should also mention that the visual presentation of this book is nothing short of first class. Although not a book of fine-art photography, it is nonetheless an aesthetically pleasing volume printed on high-quality paper.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By merrymousies on November 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Great book to have onhand. I also have Sibley's book, The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior and I love them both - they're very different and while they may overlap to some degree, they're definitely different. Lives of N. Amer. Birds has great photographs of the birds, each bird entry has an intro paragragh about the bird, then is followed by habitat they prefer/can be found in, Feeding to include diet as well as how the bird finds/hunts for food, Nesting to include typical nest sites, how they're built, number of eggs and what they look like, care oft he young. There is also a section on each bird that talks to conservation issues for the bird. Latin names are also provided. I think this is a great reference book. I like to augment my reading with the Sibley guide as well as some ofthe stokes books on bird behavior.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Guild on December 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are so many books about birds one wonders which are the best .There is no answer to that question.I have over 1000 'bird books' and I felt this one was worth buying.It is written by one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated birders in North America today.

His 'Birds of North America'is one of the best field guides for a birder to buy to carry with him to help learn about and identify birds.He particularly had the non-expert in mind when he wrote it.

His 'Kingbird Highway' is one of the best books around about his experiences as a 16 year old trying to beat the record of seeing the most species in North America in one year.

His 'Advanced Birding' was written for expert birders having difficulty sorting some of the toughest birds to identify.

Now he gives us a book filled with much more detailed information on each bird. He covers habitat,feeding,behavior,nesting,migration and the conservation status.He has also included up-to date range maps.He has written all this material in a very easy to understand manner.

One would not probably want to buy this as their first or only bird book;but it would be a great book to buy after having an identification book.It's a great book for any birder whether just getting started or been birding for some time.It is too large to take with you in the field (birding);but excellent to have at home for reference.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Prahl on April 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A lot of you that may see this book and it's dimensions and may think, a coffee table book. Or a book to put on a shelf and collect dust with. I'm here to say that that is definitely NOT the case. I have this book myself, of course, and I have suprisingly find myself reading this book merely for entertainment. I have learned a LOT from this book. You should see the marks and stains I have on mine. The Author, a great man with a great history (check his autobiography Kingbird Highway)
Must have done a LOT of research on all these birds and knows alot of them personally, to create this book with all the info on a single bird and well laid out with all the info you may need
on it (Except for the birds call, but I'm not holding him back on it.) For instance you have a picture of the bird in nature, a map of where it is red for summer, blue in winter and purple all year round resident. It has an intro on the bird, it's habitat, feeding, hunting behavior, nest, how many eggs, migration info and at last but not least, Conservation status. The book also shows info on foreign birds that occasionally enter the US from afar, but does not have all the info on an american bird, and doesn't have a picture. But still, there is a lot of information in this book. And if you ask why someone would make a book on how birds live, well, he has a very good reason. Read Kingbird Highway. I promise you won't be disappointed.
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