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National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition Paperback – November 1, 2011

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National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition + National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides) + Bushnell Falcon 7x35 Binoculars with Case
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Product Details

  • Series: National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 6 Rev Upd edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426208286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426208287
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Reviews of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition:

"Wow! … a 10% increase in illustrations, plates now sprinkled with text to point out key features, updated range maps, comprehensive subspecies maps, and other useful new features. This classic guide just keeps evolving and improving. This is the guide you want with your field gear." 
-J. V. Remsen, Distinguished Professor and Curator of Birds, Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University
"Jon Dunn’s masterful field knowledge of North America’s birds and Jonathan Alderfer’s unparalleled artistic ability and direction shine throughout this up-to-date overhaul of a classic guide.  Birders at all levels of experience benefit from a guide that is both comprehensive and accurate, and National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is exactly what they need." 
-Kimball L. Garrett, Ornithology Collections Manager, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

“The best birding field guide you can buy…National Geo 6 is now my default go-to guide. It is the design innovations that push this book to the front. You will not find a field guide that gives you better and faster access to the information it contains.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune blog
"Shelve all your other field guides for Dunn and Alderfer’s brand-new sixth edition, which leaps beyond previous editions, as well as all competition...Study it at home. Carry it afield. It has no peer."
–Daniel Gibson (birding expert),
“This new, sixth edition is by far the best of this splendid guide's incarnations so far. [It] is, simply put, the one book every North American birder needs to have on the shelf. Beginners will find it attractive, easy to use, and portable; intermediate and advanced birders will refer to it again and again with profit--and with surprise at how much it can teach even the most experienced among us.” –The ABA Blog
“The 6th edition - thoroughly re-tooled by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer - contains more new material than any other previously published revision, and it is most impressive…The combination of organization, illustration, and design adds up to a book that should please birders at virtually any level of experience.” –Birding e-Bulletin
“It belongs in every birder’s library! From beginner to expert, it will be useful to any birder. And for those interested in geographic variation, it is a must.” –The Birder’s Library
“A must-have volume for birders of all abilities.” Dan Tallman’s Bird Blog
“This will be one of the most popular field guides in the hands of North American birders…[it is] the most up-to-date field guide on the market.”

Reviews of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Fifth Edition:

“[National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America Fifth Edition] is an awesome work…the most up-to-date field guide out there…birders can do no better than to tuck this book in their cars, backpacks, or bike sacks.” –Bird Watcher’s Digest
“The must-have resource for birders.” –Miami Herald
“Birders rejoice! National Geographic has come through once again.” –Booklist, starred review
“Libraries should feather their nests with [this].” –Library Journal

“You could do now better than this thick compendium…” –Chicago Sun Times
"The field reference of choice for serious birders...Beginners and experts alike will flock to this handy field guide."

"Particularly good in making the difficult identification process easier." -The Star Ledger (Newark)

About the Author

Jon L. Dunn is a leading expert on the identification and distribution of North American birds. He is a consultant for Birding magazine, and former chair of the American Birding Association's Checklist Committee.
Jonathan Alderfer is chief consultant for National Geographic's Birding Program and a widely published author and field guide illustrator. One of the nation's foremost birding artists, he is well known for his authority on North American birds and his expertise as a field ornithologist.

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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for the experienced Birder to the beginner birder!
It is laid out with quick guides on the front inside and the rear inside covers that make this book very easy to use.
cranky old man
The newest edition of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is fantastic.
Clifford Hawley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 96 people found the following review helpful By David Gersten on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another winner from National Geographic. I have every edition of this field guide and consider it the gold standard of guides. There have been some innovative guides in recent years, especially the Sibley with its flight drawings and the Crossley with its multi-photo scenery pages. I wondered whether this new edition would have something worthwhile to keep pace. It delivers with outstanding new range maps for each species that include migration areas and extra range maps for many subspecies. There are also lots of new drawings, new text and field-mark labels. It is a bit more crowded with the labels but it is still professional. This remains the only guide I would compare to the terrific Collins Guide the Europeans have for their birds.

I am very pleased that the quality is like that of the 1st, 2nd ,3rd and 5th editions and not the mass-market 4th. The print job is better than the 5th edition as well. In particular, there was too much grey where there should have been brown hues in the 5th edition. It is a subtle difference but on some species, it is really obvious. The 6th edition corrects the problem. This edition is about 70 pages longer than the 5th edition. It doesn't include the Birding Hot Spots found in the Exclusive 5th Edition or the Identification tip boxes for difficult identification issues found in the Eastern and Western guides release after the 5th edition. Neither of those features was essential and I think they made the right decision to leave them out.

No guide is perfect and so there are still shortcomings with this one. A few of the poor drawings from recent editions have been replaced but a few (night herons and bitterns page) remain a notch below the rest of the book. There are still no under tail drawings of woodwarblers.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey RR Skrentny on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always felt that when I started carrying my 5th edition of the Geographic Guide as my main field guide, that I had sort of graduated to the field guide of a serious birding hobbyist. I needed to know what else has been seen as I traveled around the nation, just in case, and with 967 species in the 5th edition, I felt like I was covered just in case. I loved the 5th field guide, though it had some issues with color that I am glad to see fixed in the 6th edition. The 6th edition now covers 990 species seen or expected in the United States, keeping up with the new additions to the ABA lists.

Never before have I pre-ordered a book of any kind, but when I learned that the 6th edition was coming out, I just had to see how "America's #1 Bird Guide" was going to be made better. I did pre-order my copy from Amazon as soon as I was made aware of it's availability, I had it in my hands November 4th, 4 days after its November 1, 2011, publication date. Today I finished a page by page, bird by bird review of the new edition, and I do believe that the folks at National Geographic have made some nice improvements and kept their field guide the best that exists for North American birders.

I am thrilled with the new guide.

Specifically, the first thing one notices is the new maps. They are excellent, detailed and include much more information now with migration ranges noted (two excellent examples are Baird's Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper), with migration routes shown separately for spring and fall. Along with those changes, they also included subspecies ranges for the species where that might be important to know.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ozias on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've looked at many field guides whenever I find myself in book stores. This one caught my eye, and I when I learned that a new sixth edition had come out, I got it right away.

While there are many are good bird guides out there, they usually contain pictures and art that don't show the birds from every angle. The information usually isn't that detailed either, or not there at all. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would love to know how to tell the difference between two very similar species like western meadowlarks and eastern meadowlarks.

This book goes way beyond any guide I've ever seen, the information is in-depth and useful, not to mention that they show the top of the bird's wing AND the bottom of it (though unfortunately, this guide doesn't have under-tail pictures...). For some reason, many guides don't show what the bird looks like from the bottom. Which is incredibly silly since many times they flow OVER you and that's all you get to see.

There's been improved migration maps, and new subspecies migration maps, which is incredible. They also have accidental species, which is mind-blowing as well. The beginning of the book teaches you all about how to read and decipher the latin/greek names, the entire anatomy for different species, basic birding identification skills, and more.

I could go on forever about how great this book is, it's like a bird-college text book! I wouldn't settle for any other guide!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jerome Mckenna on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am rating this a four but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't recommend it to any birder. This is a fine guide and anyone who already uses the earlier National Geographic guides will be happy with this one. The drawings are mostly very good, and some of the images, especially the duck pictures are beautiful along with being accurate. Other reviewers have pointed that not all is perfect. Certainly the Winter Wren picture is sub-par. Field marks are indicated by text descriptions a method that I find inferior to the use of arrows in Peterson. I do think the small size of the pictures is a minor limitation that in a crowded market may be a deal killer (I didn't purchase the 5th edition because of the small size of the pictures). There is a lot of information packed in the book and larger images might make sense going forward. None of these objections are critical. What is important is the inconsistent printing. A number of black birds in my copy are just too dark. Other birds, such as the Purple Finch are a bit lighter than one would hope. Would anyone have a problem in the field, no, but it is a quality issue. If the printing were more consistent I would rate it a five.
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