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Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song Hardcover – September 21, 2006
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Kindle Edition with Audio/Video
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Drawing from the collection of the world-renowned Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Songs presents the most notable North American birds—including the rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker—in a stunning new format. Renowned bird biologist Les Beletsky provides a succinct description of each of the 250 birds profiled, with an emphasis on their distinctive songs. Lavish full-color illustrations accompany each account, while a sleek, built-in digital audio player holds 250 corresponding songs and calls. In his foreword, North American bird expert and distinguished natural historian Jon L. Dunn shares insights gained from a lifetime of passionate study. Complete with the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information, Bird Songs is the first book to capture the enchantment of these beautiful birds in words, pictures, and song. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, located in Ithaca, New York, is a nonprofit institution focused on birds and whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research. The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab is the major source of sound recordings of birds for research, education, conservation, the media, and commercial products.
Here are splendid color illustrations of 250 species of birds, some showing only the male and others showing both the male and female. Drawing from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the book is divided into four parts: seabirds, shorebirds, and water birds; forest birds; woodland birds; and open-country birds. With each illustration is a description of the bird's range in the U.S and Canada and its ecology and behavior. The profiles emphasize the birds' vocalizations--both songs and calls--which can be heard on an audio component that comes with the book. By using this digital audio technology, readers will be able to relate the songs and calls to the birds' appearances. Beletsky, a notable bird biologist, has written a fascinating book that will aid bird-watchers. George Cohen
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Top Customer Reviews
The way its put together is really creative - the electronic device glued strongly to the back cover is available at all times as you turn the pages. The system is minimalist which is its real charm. - a rocker switch increments an odometer like counter up or down. The number is keyed to the number on the bird page. In the middle of the rocker is a push button that starts the song playing. One more button controls the volume. That's it!
The illustrations are very nice, soft watercolors, unlike the hard edged and brighter drawings found in traditional field guides like those from Peterson and National Geographic. The descriptive text about each bird is short and to the point, my only complaint is that its gray color is not easy to read on older eyes. Yet that is minor compared to the enjoyment I got just turning the pages and pushing the button.
When I was at borders a crowd formed around me as they heard the bird calls - many thought a hawk had been trapped in the building. I highly recommend this book (and the price is right).
The songs are wonderful; accessing them is a travesty.
There are two components to this item, the book and the player. The player is a solid state device glued to the back cover of the book. The 250 bird songs in the player are known to the player only by a reference number (1 to 250), which is shown in the player's LCD window.
To hear a song, one touches the play button once to awaken the device, then, by depressing an up or down key, you scroll to the reference number of the desired song. Pressing Play then plays a recorded snippet of the selected bird's song. In short, to hear a song, one must first know its number, and then one must find it.
And herein lies the first major flaw. It is a royal pain to find the reference number of a song. The book has a miserable index, organized alphabetically by common name, that only gives the page number of a bird. One must then go to the page to find the (different) reference number for the song. There is no simple way to relate page numbers to song numbers. And the index itself is difficult to use, as it is not only organized only by common name, but there is no grouping of similar species, so a Marsh Wren is under M and a Canyon Wren is under C. If you want to look up Loon, better look under C for Common Loon. All in tiny, light type. Arrrgh.
Once one has the reference number, the second flaw becomes obvious. Player scrolling acts much like setting a digital clock, first scrolling slowly, then quickly. The numbers wrap around, so one can get to say, 249, from 1 by going backwards. Thus, theoretically, one should never have to scroll more than 125 numbers. It takes a minimum of 15 seconds to scroll 125 numbers. Be prepared to spend a lot of time fiddling with the scroll buttons.
The book. Well, the pictures are nice. The organization is bizarre, by habitat, and there are no range maps, just vague descriptions. But you aren't buying this item for the book.
The songs themselves are fascinating. The recording of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is almost worth the price by itself. And, the Amazon price is very reasonable.
I think it would be an aid to more accomplished birders who try to describe bird calls to others, a joy to children just learning about birds and a help to the avian-challenged rest of us.