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Bird Songs Bible: The Complete, Illustrated Reference for North American Birds Hardcover – Sep 15 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Box edition (Sept. 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081187138X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811871389
  • Product Dimensions: 38.1 x 5.4 x 35.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #291,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Truly encyclopedic, 'Bird Songs Bible' is a masterwork." - Chicago Tribune

About the Author

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit institution located in Ithaca, New York. Its mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research.

Les Beletsky is a celebrated bird biologist and the author of Bird Songs and Bird Songs from Around the World. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of the 728 Birds songs, there are about 14 songs that do not work, no volue, and another 15 taht have such low volume that they are not audible or play 1 - 1.5 seconds.
I am very disappointed seeing that I first bought Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song [Kindle Edition with Audio/Video]
and returned it to upgrade to this book which also is unortunately unavailable on Kindle version.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My Dad loves to feed the birds and watch them from his deck. He is a senior and this book was a great Christmas gift. The illustrations and write-ups on each bird are great. The bird calls are a very unique idea. The book is big, heavy and feels well made. A little pricey but higher quality.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bird songs Bible was a great gift for my grandson and arrived well before Christmas. He is delighted with it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa9513d80) out of 5 stars 104 reviews
102 of 103 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa9513c54) out of 5 stars A perfect gift for the bird lover you love - ideal either for the coffee table or the classroom. Nov. 18 2010
By Nate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a gorgeous book, full of valuable information. It could be used and appreciated by the birding novice and the expert alike. It's also quite handy, as they've thought to include a fairly solid carrying case, complete with a handle. Edited by celebrated bird scientist Les Beletsky, the book aims to be a comprehensive guide to all the native birds of North America, and includes a gorgeous illustration and helpful notes on every single one. The notes for each bird include a very useful descriptive passage, including details such as the fact that the Mute Swan is distinguished from other swans by its black-knobbed orange bill. It also includes discussions of where they are found - and there's a color-coded distribution map as well. Each section, additionally, includes a paragraph on habitat, behavior and vocalizations.

The really novel feature of this book, though, is that it includes very clear and distinctive audio recordings of the vocalizations of each bird, drawn from the library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Every bird is numbered, and you just type in the number onto the keypad of the sound unit attached to this book and it plays some of the distinctive sounds that particular bird makes. One thing that surprised me was when I played the sound of the Bald Eagle I realized I've heard them often in a nearby nature park. I knew I'd seen them on occasions, but didn't realize they were the bird making that sound, and that I was hearing them more often than I saw them! (See the brief attached video for a glimpse at what this book looks like and how it sounds and how it works.)

The table of contents divides up the sections in two ways, by bird type and by region/habitat, which would make it easier to find a particular bird if you didn't know its exact name. The book includes a basic introduction to each habitat as well. There's also, of course, a comprehensive index. The introduction gives some basic facts about birds that would be very helpful for beginners.

My wife was the one who really wanted this - she's working on becoming a serious birder, focused on the astonishing variety of birds that appear here where we live along the West coast of central Florida. As soon as we got it, though, I found that my children, especially my youngest son, are fascinated by the book and open it with care and come back to it regularly. I'd be walking through the hallway by the kids' bedroom and hear bird sounds, and knew that my youngest son had "borrowed" it for a while to browse. The whole family has browsed through it, occasionally to look up birds that we see at the beach or in the neighborhood or at the local nature preserve. This would make an ideal gift for the bird lover in your family. I know my wife plans to bring it in to her elementary classroom and show it to her students. It would also be a very nice book to keep on a coffee table in the living room for those who just want to browse.
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa78ca42c) out of 5 stars Special PLAY ALL Tracks Modes for the Bird Songs Bible book. Dec 6 2010
By SteveBBB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Special PLAY ALL Tracks Modes for the Bird Songs Bible book:

Greetings to all readers and listeners of the Bird Songs Bible book.

This is Steve Beck, and I was one of the team members who worked on making the book.

I worked on the custom audio engineering and some related technology items in the digital audio player.

There are some special PLAY ALL tracks modes in the Bird Songs Bible Book.

These track numbers will automatically play all (or some) of the 728 bird sounds.

Just punch in the three digit track code number and press the PLAY button.

999 = Plays ALL tracks 1 to 728
990 = plays tracks 1-99
991 = plays tracks 100-199
992 = plays tracks 200-299
993 = plays tracks 300-399
994 = plays tracks 400-499
995 = plays tracks 500-599
996 = plays tracks 600-699
997 = plays tracks 700-728

When you do this the display will briefly show the word ALL.

Then the track number which is playing will display during automatic PLAY ALL mode.

You can press the PLAY/PAUSE button at any time to stop the automatic playback.

If you press any other control button, a number button or the << or >> buttons, the PLAY ALL mode will also stop.

Adjusting the volume levels does NOT stop the PLAY ALL automatic songs playbacks.

At the end of playing all the tracks selected the book will automatically turn off power after about 15 seconds.

You can also enter a new track number at any time, press PLAY, and the automatic playback will stop, and the track number you just entered will play.

Then the book goes back into single track play mode.

The PLAY ALL mode is fun and useful to just go through the pages of birds as the songs are played automatically.

It is also a nice album of bird songs music to enjoy.

The PLAY ALL tracks 1 through 728 will play for well over one hour of playing time.

Thanks also for the comments on the product - hopefully some updated versions of the book may address these critical comments.


Thanks, Cheers, Peace, Steve Beck
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8215540) out of 5 stars Interesting, Useful, Big Oct. 25 2010
By Steve Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What makes this different from other bird books is that it not only illustrates and describes each bird but also plays back its song or call using an integrated audio player. Each bird has a number; to hear its song you enter its number on a keypad and press the "play" button. The recordings last up to five seconds or so, depending on how long a bird's song is.

Each pages contains a color drawing and detailed description of from one to three birds. The book covers all the birds of North America and Hawaii. It seems to be a fairly basic book intended more for a general audience than for experienced bird enthusiasts.

I am not a bird enthusiast, I just wanted something that would identify my local birds and let me know which ones I was hearing. This book did that.

There are some drawbacks, though. The text is a bit small. The labels on the players' buttons are very difficult to see. The book is big and quite heavy; the audio player is mounted on its right-hand edge, making it even bigger. This is a coffee-table book, not a field guide (and the introduction warns against using the audio player in the field anyway, as that can apparently upset or confuse the birds).

However, this is a very interesting and useful book to have in the house and it should even interest the kids.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a3a57c) out of 5 stars A must for bird lovers; helped me solve a mystery! Nov. 6 2010
By Mindy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is, without a doubt, the nicest book I have ever owned. I'm sure many of you look at the price and wonder if it's worth it and I can tell you unequivocally: It is. Especially if you're a birdwatcher.

I consider myself a beginner. Mostly I like to sit outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and listen, maybe catch a glimpse of color fly by. I have a hard time discerning the difference in the bird songs which is why I got this. I was not disappointed. The book is large and every page is done with rich, bold colors. 747 birds are featured and each has a map of where they can be found with short blurbs on description, habitat, distribution, vocalizations and behavior. Best yet, the accompanying audio is crystal clear. In fact, it's so life like that there's a warning not to use this book haphazardly as it may disrupt the normal rhythms of the birds at your location. The audio is delivered through a device attached to the book. The device is simple to use and I like how it shuts off after 30 seconds of inactivity.

The book, as mentioned before, is large and bulky. Most likely you wouldn't have this on your lap while outside because your lap would soon get numb. It's also cumbersome to handle but that's not really a detractor to me. It's like complaining a dictionary has way too many words and should be smaller. This book is comprehensive and the size is a bonus since the birds are rendered with such detail and beauty.

I've used this book often and even solved a mystery with it. At night, my husband and I would hear a specific bird call right as we were drifting off to sleep. It was unusual and always brought me back from the edge of dreams but during the day, I wouldn't see anything out of the ordinary, just a crow or robin here and there. I figured it must be an owl, but I didn't confirm it until I got this book. As I pressed the button, I knew right away: This was it! Somewhere close to my home lived a Barred Owl! I was thrilled!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7c1cedc) out of 5 stars Sit back and enjoy it Nov. 10 2010
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a very large and very HEAVY book. I tried reading it on the floor and using a desk, then the book and I landed happily in a big recliner. After skimming around, I found it very helpful to read the few pages of introductory material that precedes the 728 birds. The section "Order of Presentation and a Major Bird Division" explains that the sections--which are like chapters that vary greatly in length--are actually biological "families" of their various species grouped together. Also that birds are basically divided into passerine, and nonpasserine. Apparently, some birds (passerines) are able to perch, ie, to grasp a branch, whereas others (nonpasserines) are not able to do so. This is an evolutionary division, and the book is also basically organized into evolutionary families.

Each new section (Family) is a different color. For example, the first family of birds--Ducks, Geese and Swans (also given is the scientific name: family Anatidae) and there are 47 birds in this blue section. Next is a brown section with turkey, pheasants and relatives, and so on. There are a few families that are comprised of only one bird species, since they have no near relatives, at least in North America. The family name is printed horizontally on every page.

Each page features two or, sometimes, one bird species. A colored painting of the bird is shown, as well as a small map indicating habitate region--whether home or migratory. If the two sexes of that bird look different, both will be represented. The text includes: Description, Distribution, Habitat, Behavior, and Vocalizations. Under "Description" the bird measurements from tip of beak to end of tail is given in inches. (would like to see centimeters)"Behavior" includes how the bird walks around or swims, catches food, and if it has any nasty habits like laying its eggs in other birds nests. The written description overall is rather brief but clear.

A major feature of this volume is the sound-player attached to the right side of the book. It is true that the numbers on this device are difficult to read; I don't read them at all, but the numbers are set up exactly like a phone pad, so I go from there. There is a back button and forward button, also volume controls. I think the quality of the recordings is excellent.

Scattered throughout the book are ten four-page sections that depict and describe birds in specific habitats, such as "Cascade Mountains Riverside", "Arctic Tundra", and "Midwest Agricultural Region". A large painting fills the first two pages, with the birds flying, perching or behaving as they do in nature, along with the name of the habitat and a list of the common names of the birds. Following that is a narrative about the birds and region, along with illustrations of each species. I particularly enjoyed these sections. The large illustrations are engaging and the narratives are well-written. These sections are independant from the material that precedes and follows them.

Overall, I think the writers, illustrators and editors did a good job of this very ambitious project. Someone called it "overkill", but I also read that it is thought that this group of 700+ birds represents only about 7 1/2 percent of all the birds in the world. That's a lot of birds! I give the book 4 stars for illustrations, 5 stars for writing, and 4.5 for overall organization. I recommend the book to bird lovers young or old, or anyone who wants to learn about them.
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