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A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America Paperback – Jan 1 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Fifth Edition edition (Jan. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395740460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395740460
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #136,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Veteran birders will know how to use this book. Beginners, however, should spend some time becoming familiar in a general way with the illustrations. They are not arranged in systematic or phylogenetic order as in most ornithological works but are grouped in 8 main visual categories:

(1) Swimmers — Ducks and ducklike birds (2) Aerialists — Gulls and gull-like birds (3) Long-legged Waders — Herons, cranes, etc.
(4) Smaller Waders — Plovers, sandpipers, etc.
(5) Fowl-like Birds — Grouse, quail, etc.
(6) Birds of Prey — Hawks, eagles, owls (7) Nonpasserine Land Birds (8) Passerine (Perching) Birds

Within these groupings it will be seen that ducks do not resemble loons; gulls are readily distinguishable from terns. The needlelike bills of warblers immediately differentiate them from the seed-cracking bills of sparrows. Birds that could be confused are grouped together when possible and are arranged in identical profile for direct comparison. The arrows point to outstanding “field marks” which are explained opposite.


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Format: Hardcover
This is the last Field Guide done by the great Roger Tory Peterson before his passing in 1996. Most of the plates have been reworked and many redrawn. He was working on the last plate (on Flycatchers) the day he died.
This remains probably the best Field guide for beginner to intermediate birders in the eastern US (and Canada). The illustrations and the helpfull arrows (the "Peterson System") pointing out essential ID points. His verbal descriptions often bring the birds to life, such as his now famous decriptions of Sanderlings and Swifts, and the verbal descriptions of bird songs and calls remain the best of any guide. This remains one of my favourtie Field Guides and is often the one that accompanies me out in the field. The National Geographic Guide may be a slightly more suitable choice for the advanced birder, though birders of all levels would be delighted with this guide.
A welcome change in this edition is the addition of small "thumbnail" maps on the opposite page to the illustration thus removing one of the main criticisms of previous editions. The larger maps remain in the back, still done by Mrs Peterson with help form Paul Lehman. One negative is the slight increase in size (the pages are a little bigger) making the book slightly less pocketable.
Overall an excellent Field guide, which while not reaching the exaltred heights recently set by Mullarney et al in their superb European guide, is the final effort by the man who essentially started it all.
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Format: Paperback
The 5th edition of Peterson's field guide is an improvement over previous edtions. The maps are included in the front with the birds now, in addtion to having a separate more detailed map in the back of the guide.
These range maps are the best of all current guides because the details are easiest to see because their so big.
Sibly's is great also but because of it's size(the guide itself) I wouldn't recommend it for the field, more as a reference for back home.
So if your going to own just one field guide the 5th edtion Peterson's is the best all around guide out there.
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Format: Paperback
I've had versions of R.T, Peterson's Field Guides ever since high school. I've actually watched birds my entire life from the day my mom told me I could catch a bird if I put salt on its tail and she caught me running out of the house with the salt shaker, chasing after a blackbird. (I'm not making this up.) This book is one of my key tools I use to convert friends and family into bird-o-maniacs. I begin with the provocative remark "Did you know I've recorded over 40 species of birds in our suburban back yard," then I take them out to watch birds at a national preserve nearby. Works every time.
I love the drawings because they give you the average or highlighted characteristic feature of the species. Photos can obscure, although sometimes they are indispensible to make a tough identification. The new edition has a wonderful feature: the range maps are now WITH the bird species and not in the back. Hooray! Range is critical to bird identification--if you think you are seeing a Western Jay and you are in Delaware, well, maybe it is an accidental but probably you saw some other kind of bird. The notes on songs help you identify that unseen bird, and the description of habits is essential.
I suggest if you have kids, that you get a reasonable pair of binoculars, this Field Guide and a set of index cards, a scrap book, a weblog or just use the life-checklist in the book. Have the kids note the species they see, when and where they see them. Soon they will have a fascinating list of what's in their own backyard and you will have something wonderful to do together.
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Format: Paperback
If you're getting into birding, or want a good field guide to see what birds are at your cabin or in your yard, this is it.
It's got the bird listed opposite from the description and has arrows to show field marks of a species. New in the 5th edition are:
Maps on the same page as the description (maps improved too!)
The description mentions how common the bird is in the east.
The area covered doesn't take a sharp turn and leave out the tip of texas

If you're getting more into birding I'd highly recommend David Sibley's guide, it has many more views and plumages of each bird, but is a bit large to take in the field.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very good field guide, I've owned it for several years. The illustrations are usually accurate enough to make quick identification. There are times, though, that this is not the case. Recently I had a difficult time identifying a particular bird because what I saw versus what was drawn and the accompanying map were not all in total alignment.
However, this book is still far and away the best field guide I've come across. It is easy to use, organized into logical sections, and is as complete as most birdes would ever need. Some of the technical descriptions are cumbersome, namely trying to describe sounds with words, but this is not a major problem.
This guide should remain the standard for years to come. The reader just needs to be aware that varaitions may likely occur in what they see on paper compared to what they see in the field.
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