National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America : Revised and Updated 3rd Edition

51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0792274513
ISBN-10: 0792274512
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The field reference of choice for serious birders since its inception, the third edition has been updated to reflect new bird ranges in North America as well as the always controversial reclassifications of species and subspecies. The expanded text includes even more notes on identification, behavior, habitat, and song, while the illustrations--now revised and sharpened--depict individual species in varying plumage, often with habitat cues in the background. Like the first two editions, the guide combines accurate illustrations with useful maps and text in a portable format. Beginners and experts alike will flock to this handy field guide.

From School Library Journal

YA-An excellent choice for both beginning and expert birders. The highly appealing format is arranged by species for easy use, and is complemented by gorgeous illustrations. The readable text provides basic information on families, scientific names, plumage sequences, field marks, measurements, voices, behaviors, and habitats, as well as range maps. Practical tips on buying binoculars and telescopes are an added bonus. This is a natural companion to the regional field guides done by the Audubon Society (Houghton) and Peterson's Guides. National Geographic's volume has the most and the best pictures; Audubon presents the most facts; and Peterson gives additional bits of information that the others ignore. Essential for school and public library collections, Field Guide to the Birds of North America would also make an ideal gift.
Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 3rd edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792274512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792274513
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,133,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been writing since my teen years, when I covered high school sports for my hometown newspaper, The Herald, in Bridgeport, Conn.
I continued working at the paper while I was in college. In the mid-1950s I began working for The New York Daily News, writing feature stories. In 1963, I left The News, going to Chilton Books in Philadelphia, and then to the National Geographic Book Division. I began freelancing in 1981, but I continued contributing to Geographic publications.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on January 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
For birders, there's never been a better time to find a field guide. Sibley and Kauffman have both published very good guides recently, serious competition for the venerable National Geographic guide.
First, you can't go wrong with any of the three. They are all very good, although each brings different strengths and weaknesses.
Second, if you bird with a companion, carry different guides: one of you take National Geographic and one of you take Sibley or Kauffman.
Third, measure your skill level against the assumptions of the various guides. If you are a novice, then Kauffman might be your best choice. If you are a beginner who has a bit of experience, then National Geo may be your best choice. If you are an advanced beginner or better, then perhaps Sibley.
But as an overall choice, with decent art (although not quite as good as Sibley), decent identification highlights (although not quite as good as Kauffman), quite good behavior cues, excellent treatment of vagrant birds and highly readable text, National Geographic emerges as the most versatile of the three.
If you can, get all three. If you can't get all three, this is probably, by the thinnest of margins, the best choice.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Just like that holy book, you will find this excellent book by National Geographic is constantly referred to. As you would expect from any field guide, it is beautifully illustrated. That's usually not enough though to help you positively identify some species, regardless of whether you are an expert or casual birder. The field notes associated with each birds' illustration come in very handy. They give vital clues about behavior, habitat or some other factor that can help clinch the identification. Small maps showing breeding, year round and winter ranges are well placed on each page and are there to provide quick geographic checks. Helps avoid situations like this: "I just saw a Louisiana Waterthrush. Oh wait, I'm in South Florida, can't be then, it must have been a Northern."
The only other way I can endorse this book is to say that I have quite a few other guides and reference books and when going out birding with my family and I say "bring the field guides" this is usually the first one grabbed.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Erin K. Darling on March 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've been birding for about 5 years, and this is the book I always have with me on birding expeditions - it's small enough to portable (though not small enough for a pocket,) and the illustrations are excellent in quality. Has very nice comparison pages, showing several similar-looking species, such as ducks, hawks, gulls, and warblers. The descriptions are generally very good, and contain useful distinguishing information.
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.
I have about a dozen birding field guides, and the only one I like better than this one is the Sibley; however, the extremely large size of that book prevents me from taking it on any but short trips. 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.
An excellent book, all around.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've owned this book for a couple of years or so. It's a guide I'll refer to when I'm at home, but I don't like using it out in the field. It's a guide that I've never felt very comfortable using. There are better ones out there than this. I can't quite point my finger at what I don't like about this book. The information and maps are fine. I guess it would have to be the fact that the book's drawings don't seem as good as other guides illustrations. The book is quite large also, and not really pocket sized. My favorite illustrated guides are Roger Tory Peterson's Eastern Birds and All the Birds of North America (the drawings are more reliable in these I believe).
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