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Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – August 28, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 172 customer reviews

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Product Description
In celebration of the centennial of Roger Tory Peterson's birth comes a historic collaboration among renowned birding experts and artists to preserve and enhance the Peterson legacy. This new book combines the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds and Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds into one volume, filled with accessible, concise information and including almost three hours of video podcasts to make bird watching even easier.

• 40 new paintings
• Digital updates to Peterson's original paintings, reflecting the latest knowledge of bird identification
• All new maps for the most up-to-date range information available
• Text rewritten to cover the U.S. and Canada in one guide
• Larger trim size accommodates range maps on every spread
• Contributors include: Michael DiGiorgio, Jeff Gordon, Paul Lehman, Michael O'Brien, Larry Rosche, and Bill Thompson III
• Includes URL to register for access to video podcasts

Excerpts from Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America
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Colorful songbirds with heavy, seed-crushing bills, cardinals and grosbeaks are popular at feeders.

In North America, the Orchard and Baltimore Orioles are fairly widespread in the East; Bullock's is widespread in the West; and the Spot-breasted Oriole is limited to South Florida.

Peterson sometimes painted over figures on a plate and sometimes even cut them out. Canyon Wren was missing from the original art. Michael O'Brien painted a new Canyon Wren for inclusion in the new field guide.

The Orange Bishop is native to Africa but has been introduced in California. Peterson had not painted this bird for his field guides, so Michael O’Brien painted this one.

Thumbnail maps help you determine at a glance if a bird is likely to be in your region.

Large maps in back give detailed range information.

From Booklist

As new or revised field guides are published, they are getting too big to carry in a pocket. This one is no exception. It is larger and heavier than earlier Peterson Field Guides and combines the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds (1992) and the Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds (1992) in a single volume. The new features include a more conversational text, online access to video podcasts, and small range maps with the plates as well as the usual range-maps section at the end. The text covers both Canada and the U.S., so it is more inclusive than many guides. When his first edition was published some 75 years ago, Peterson’s system for identifying field marks became the gold standard for birders worldwide. This updated edition has corrections to the taxonomy (name changes and specie identifications). Every effort has been made to present the most current information. Peterson’s paintings have been digitized, and 40 new paintings in his style are included where needed. The contributors who worked on this guide are well-known and respected birders, illustrators, and writers and have maintained the high standards that Peterson set. Birding field-trip leaders will want to make room in their backpacks for this guide because the large illustrations will be very useful in teaching while birding. Libraries of all types will also want this volume marking the 100th anniversary of Peterson’s birth because of its concise, accurate information and large illustrations. --Linda Scarth

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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Field Guides
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618966145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618966141
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This guide is a combination of the previously separate Eastern and Western Peterson guides. The look and feel of this guide will be immediately familiar to any users of past editions, especially the latest Eastern. However, every aspect of the book, even the art, has been enhanced and updated. Here is a brief summary of the changes.

The book's size is the first change that will be noticed. It is now probably too large to carry into the field. However, the increased size means that the plates are less crowded, and the art can be reproduced in a larger size. This allows the art to be better appreciated and studied.

Unless you are extremely familiar with Peterson's art, you won't notice many changes on the plates. But there have in fact been many. The most extensive changes have been in the form of digital enhancements to Peterson's art. These are touch-ups and corrections to make the bird on the page look more like the bird in the field. Thankfully, these enhancements have been artfully done, and do not stand out. In virtually every case they have indeed improved the image of every species that I'm familiar with.

There are also entirely new paintings, contributed by Michael O'Brien. Some, like the Himalayan Snowcock, are new species that have never before been included in a Peterson guide. But some previously included birds have been completely replaced by new paintings. These have been done in Peterson's style and some are very difficult to pick out. However, many are fairly obvious. They are not bad by any means, just different, and that difference can be jarring.

Like the art, the text has also been extensively enhanced and updated. For the most part, this consists of editorial changes such as word usage.
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Format: Paperback
I have deep respect for the life and achievements of Roger Tory Peterson. His impact on ornithology, ecology, avian medicine, wildlife art and birdwatching have often been underestimated.

The latest edition of the guide melds East and West and does a great deal to upgrade coverage of Western species through enlarged maps and improved digital renderings.

My problem with the Peterson series has been occasionally inaccurate renderings of some common common species -- the Barred Owl is one example -- which might cause a novice to misidentify an individual in the field.

Many bird enthusiasts purchase and use a variety of field guides because each has its strengths and liabilities. Sibley is the strongest on artistic renderings. Peterson is the best for species differentiation. Smithsonian's excels because of its bird-call DVD. For anyone who wants an all-in-one, National Geographic's Fifth Edition is probably a best bet.

As for the podcast benefits advertised on the cover -- they are continually available to bird-lovers on the net at Roger Tory Peterson Institute's site without a book purchase.

One of te best perks of purchasing this book is a free, one-year membership in The Roger Tory Institute in Jamestown, New York.

I purchased this volume as a tribute to the series and because so many of the renderings of species are excellent. I also appreciate the fact that all maps have been enlarged so that old people like me can see them.

Production values for the book are superb, without question the best field-guide binding available in print. While the paper stock has some annoying opacity, it really doesn't get in the way.

Diurnal raptor fans should look elsewhere -- Brian Wheeler's guides are a good choice. Owl fans should reach for Lynch or Johnsgard.

More than worth the price for its editorial strength and production values.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My 5-star rating is based entirely on sentiment for Roger Tory Peterson and what his work means to all nature enthusiasts in the US today. Like countless other birders I grew up with an abiding interest in the avian life around me informed almost entirely by RTP's field guides starting with the 1947 Second Edition (still on my library shelf). This new volume almost certainly will be the last published that reproduces King Penguin's incredible art in field guide format, given that it combines birds from both the Eastern and Western guides for the first time, brings taxonomy up to the most recent level, and finally adopts the most up-to-date species order. But this is the ultimate Peterson, perhaps in the most poignant sense, because this volume celebrates the centennial of Peterson's birth, right down to the date it was to be released (but I still thank Amazon for shipping it a month early). In my humble opinion, anyone and everyone who likes birds even a little bit needs to own this book.

Now I do have a few points to make that are directed at the book's value as a field guide in 2008, and my opinion here is that a rating of 4-stars (or perhaps even 3) is more appropriate. The "trim size" is indeed larger than previous, by about an inch on a side, bringing the height to just one-half inch less than the Sibley Guide (regularly criticized as too large to carry in the field). The art is less crowded for sure, but portability suffers. The paintings are for the most part the exact same as earlier editions, with frequent rearrangements (digitally performed) to account for the East/West combination and taxonomy modifications. New paintings by Michael O'Brien are inserted and are virtually indistinguishable from RTP's own work - a very high compliment to Mr. O'Brien, if you ask me.
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