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Birds of North America (Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press) Hardcover – February 15, 1990
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On the plus side, I still like the way that they display the similar species together on one page for quick reference and have the range map on the same page. First page in each series is helpful where there are many birds that are similar and the book highlights key differentiating features.
The plates are arranged to simplify the comparison of similar species, and for the most part you'll find more species per page than in guides preferred by most advanced birders. New birders aren't overwhelmed with more information than is needed to identify (especially) the most commonly seen birds.
You can fit this guide in a pocket and it holds up well to field use. Most people who get serious about birding will move on to NGS or Sibley or Peterson (among others), but before they do so the Golden Guide will do much to promote their development as birders.
It's for that reason I rate it so highly. It doesn't pretend to be a guide that works well for advanced birders, but I consider it perhaps the best guide on the market for beginners. A new edition with taxonomic updates would be nice, but for novice birders it's certainly not necessary.
The current St. Martins Press (printed in China) edition is a disgrace as a birders field guide. I have been a hobby birder for 40 years and cut my teeth on the Golden Field Guids since the 1966 edition and replacing my guide with the 1983 printing. The color in these books were superb.
The current guide's color is pale and washed out loosing a lot of bird features and badly off-color that an experienced birder would have difficulty in matching their sighting with anything in this book, let alone getting a beginning birder off to an encouraging experience using this printing (China must not understand bird coloration as seen in previous "Western Publishing" edition.) The bird images are very light so details are lost compared to bird's true colors, the images all seem to have a green tint. --- I've never seen a green (white) bird. The location maps do not have enough background shading to outline the North America map.
What a shame to have such a good field guild as the Golden Field Guide bird series reputation ruined by the issuing of this edition by St. Martins Press. And worse yet to have the Press claim that previous quality and integrity are being maintained. This is a rip off publication.