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

4.4 out of 5 stars 103 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 (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,493,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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