- Series: National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America
- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: National Geographic; Revised, Updated, Indexed edition (November 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1426208286
- ISBN-13: 978-1426208287
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 555 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America) Paperback – November 1, 2011
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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), Amazon.com
“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.” Birdingisfun.com
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." -Amazon.com
"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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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. The flight drawings are not consistent. It is time to replace the harsh looking eagle on the cover.
On the whole I love this guide and look forward to reading all of the descriptions. It will replace my National Geographic 5th edition in the field.
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. It is worth noting that for species that have complicated sub-species maps, there is a section in the back of the book with 41 detailed sub-species maps that are much appreciated.
Furthermore, there are many more range maps for birds that are not regular visitors to North America (Fea's and Bermuda Petrel come to mind), or have very small ranges (Island Scrub Jay for example). These maps show the Asian, Caribbean or Mexican typical ranges for the species in much more detail and indicate how the species might find it's way to the United States. It is a small detail that I really like. There was never a need to just show where the bird was seen in the US, and I am glad the folks creating this guide didn't stick strictly to US maps only this time around, the map flexibility has really allowed a wonderful addition of knowledge that these maps impart.
The next detail users of the 5th edition will notice that is different in the 6th edition is that every species entry is now broken into three distinct parts. They begin with species description, and then have clearly marked sections on VOICE and RANGE. It is the new and more comprehensive details in RANGE that are substantially improved in this edition. Clearly, they had listers in mid as they added the details they did about how often and when species are seen, or have been seen, that is just an excellent improvement, especially for the serious lister.
A third major change for this edition is the addition of field note details along with the bird images. They are insightful and great reminders for the accomplished birder, but wonderful instructional notes for the learning birder. I have always loved these notes in the Kaufmann guide, and the addition of these notes, in my mind does not detract from the wonderful images. I have always hoped that this feature would be added to this guide, and I never would have expected two other changes to make this anything other than my favorite update to the guide, but both the above outweigh this fantastic change to this guide.
A few small things I liked, images of the ducks flying are now WITH the species accounts. They still kept the duck, shorebird and raptor pages showing flying images of the birds for comparison to similar species, but for the ducks I always wanted the flying images with the species, and now that change has been made. The updates to Red-tailed Hawk are nice, not a comprehensive overview, of course, but more information that can be followed up on if one needs to know more. The new images of the sub-species are a nice basic update that was overdue. Finally, very minor, I loved the image of the Yellow Warbler feeding a just fledged Brown-headed Cowbird. How many times I have seen that in the field. Nice touch.
My suggestions for improvement? I have a few.
One, why doesn't any field guide show the ABA Species Code number? It would be easy to add and I would love to know what are code 2, 3, 4 and 5 species without having to add that information to the guide by hand.
Two, I must also admit at after Crossley's ID Guide, I like having the 4 letter codes with the species accounts. I would like to see those codes added to this guide too.
Three, I was disappointed to see Bachman's Warbler and Eskimo Curlew exiled to the Accidental & Extinct Species section (I love the section for accidentals, and found it surprisingly up to date). If this was my guide, I would keep the extinct North American species, Labrador Duck, Eskimo Curlew, Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet & Bachman's Warbler in their taxonomic places within the guide. It is a good way to place them inside the appropriate taxonomy, AND a great reminder of just how precious every species is, and how we need to protect the remaining species we have so we don't add to this list anytime soon.
Finally, of all the images, I thought the Winter Wren image to be terrible and off color. It was the only image I had a completely negative reaction too. The Winter Wrens we get in Chicago look NOTHING like that washed out light image that they have included for this species now that it has been split from Pacific Wren.
But none of these small suggestions should take anything away from how comprehensive and complete this guide is. The maps are worth the price of the book alone, the image accounts and much better with the RANGE notes, and the addition of field mark notes with the images has been done with respect and insight. This is a fantastic update, and every serious birder, or aspiring birder, needs this update for not just their library, BUT to have with them in the field.