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National Geographic Field Guide To The Birds Of North America, 4th Edition 4th Edition

98 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0792268772
ISBN-10: 0792268776
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fourth edition of this popular field guide adds some valuable features, including updated maps and taxonomic classifications. A new "quick-find" index of common groups refers experienced birders to the right page, fast, but won't be much use to novices. Nevertheless, the book's organization is clear, the illustrations are realistic and more colorful than ever, and the range maps are easy to understand. The guide covers all North American bird species, including seabirds. In his introduction to the new edition, Cornell ornithologist John W. Fitzpatrick motivates birders of all levels, extolling the virtues of this field guide in helping ordinary citizens add to the store of scientific knowledge. And he's right: marking the little checkboxes in the index as you spot each species is satisfying science that can be done by anyone, including kids. Another delightful feature is the phonetic spellings of bird calls, such as the "kakakowlp-kowlp" of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo or the "few-few-fawee" of the Western bluebird. This remains one of the best portable bird guides in publication, tough enough to take in the field, but detailed enough for hours of armchair browsing. 800 illustrations, 630 maps.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 4 edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792268776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792268772
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Taylor on January 22, 2003
Verified Purchase
I have been birding for 23 years. My life list is a respectable 450 species in North America. While some reviewers may not carry this book around, I will guarantee you the National Geographic Society (NGS) Field Guide to the Birds of North America is the #1 choice among every birder I know.
On my shelf I have a dozen guides...in fact probably every one published. Some are better for some things (such as Sibley), but overall this one is HANDS DOWN my favorite.
What makes it so good? With due respect to Roger Tory Peterson, the illustrations and written clues in the NGS guide are unmatched.
Secondly, in the 4th edition, National Geographic has demonstrated a fervent desire to keep up with the ever-changing naming conventions from the American Ornithological Union. Other guides simply do not keep pace.
If you are new to this hobby, this is THE guide. If someone told you they are interested, but they don't know where to start, this is THE guide to get them.
The one to get if you only get one. The one to use if you have many.
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96 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Taylor on November 16, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been birding for 20 years. My life list is a respectable 445 species in North America. While some reviewers may not carry this book around, I will guarantee you the National Geographic Society (NGS) Field Guide to the Birds of North America is the #1 choice among every birder I know. On my shelf I have a dozen guides...in fact probably every one published. This one is HANDS DOWN my favorite. What makes it so good? With due respect to Roger Tory Peterson, the illustrations and written clues in the NGS guide are unmatched. Secondly, in the 3d edition, National Geographic has demonstrated a fervent desire to keep up with the ever-changing naming conventions from the American Ornithological Union. Other guides are simply not keeping pace. If you are new to this hobby, this is THE guide. If someone told you they are interested, but they don't know where to start, this is THE guide.
The one to get if you only get one. The one to use if you have many.
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147 of 152 people found the following review helpful By N. Anich on February 20, 2003
Just like many other reviewers, this is one of my many field guides to birds, but this one is not my favorite.
Plusses:
It's got all the latest revisions (e.g. Wilson's Snipe and Black-crested Titmouse) which the other books do not yet have.
It's got more birds, so if you're going somewhere where you might see Steller's Sea-Eagle or an Eurasian Kestrel, you'll need this book.
I personally think the maps in this addition are pretty accurate.
Minuses:
Other field guides have illustrations all by the same person. This guide has a bunch of artists. Therefore, I like how some of the birds are shown, but not others. You can't develop a feel of the artist's style and figure out how the typical bird is shown.
Some people may like how the birds are painted in natural habitats, but for me, I'm trying to get a good look at the bird, I don't care if it's up in some flowery tree, I want to see the bird. In other guides you can easily compare birds because they have the same posture, but often similar birds in this book are pictured doing different things.
It's too big to carry around easily. So if you want to carry one around, take Peterson, but if you're going to carry one that's too big for your pocket, you might as well take Sibley, it has more illustrations.
So, if you're into birding, you might as well pick this up, for the extra birds it offers if nothing else. But if you're not looking to collect a bunch of guides I find Peterson easier to use if you are beginning and Sibley better for more advanced birders.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Sean Kelley on July 30, 2003
I have many different bird field guides, but always take this one along on my trips. I have read reviews by others that state this book is too big to carry in the field. Nonsense. I like having a bird book with all the North American birds between the covers. You never know when you may see a stray bird hundreds of miles away from its usual locations. The illustrations are very detailed. The raptors in flight section is another bonus of this book. Don't get me wrong, Sibley's books are magnificent, but this one is good as well. The only drawback is the sparrow section. While they are good, they don't do the birds justice. However, no book is perfect. My birding friends and I all agree that this is probably the best field guide at the moment.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Erin K. Darling on December 28, 2002
I've been birding for about 6 years now, and this is the book I always have with me on birding expeditions, since its second edition - it's small enough to portable (though not small enough for a pocket,) and the illustrations are excellent in quality. The comparison pages showing several similar-looking species (comparing different species of ducks, hawks, gulls, warblers et cetera) are excellent. The descriptions are generally very good, and contain useful distinguishing information including vocalizations and distinctive movement patterns. The range maps are easily read, and at the front of the book, there are pages explaining how to identify birds, plumage, anatomy, and sundry other topics of use.
Generally, I prefer drawings/paintings to actual photographs when using birding books - I've found that often times, the photographs in birding books are less than good examples of several species, especially when there are one or more variations. Also, with illustrations, the artist controls the lighting, the angle, et cetera. Since this book uses illustrations, so perhaps I'm biased toward it in that way. ...P> The NGS book here is more than sufficient for most birders, I would imagine. Another plus is that it's all the birds of the continent, period; no need to buy an Eastern/Western edition when you travel to other areas of the country.
In this newest edition, they have included notations for whether or not the bird is endangered or threatened, as well as a handy one-page "quick-find index" at the back for finding a general group of birds quickly (for example, finches, jays and hawks,)so one doesn't have to spend precious moments looking through the longer, full index for them.
The book is durable, and withstands dampness and even light rain very well.
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