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Guide to the Birds of Alaska Paperback – Apr 1 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books; 5 edition (April 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882407295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882407296
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #541,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Loons are goose-sized swimming birds with sharply pointed bills. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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By Greg Henrikson on April 4 2000
Format: Paperback
This is *the* book for Alaska birding, and it's well-written enough to serve as pleasure reading even for those outside the state. The birds are organized logically, with detailed descriptions of habitat, similar species, and markings. Each description is accompanied by excellent all-color photos, many showing female and male and sometimes seasonal variations. Unlike other large bird guides, this one's easy to use in the field.
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Format: Paperback
Robert Armstrong is an incredibly fine and thorough researcher! His books are not only understandably written and informative, but beautiful as well. Every photograph pictures the birds in full color, often showing both the male and female, which adds to the usefulness and value of this book. Definitely a Bible for any nature lover.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
A truly beautiful book but not necessarily enough Aug. 14 2005
By Bryan Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Armstrong's book is filled with beautiful photographs and covers all the regular species that you will see in Alaska. It is a great introduction to the birds that inhabit the area. Every Alaskan birdwatcher should have a copy.

But, if you are a beginning birder, or new to the Northwest you might need a different field guide. Animals are illustrated with one, two, or three photographs. Unfortunately photographic guides are often deceiving in the field. I recommend you take another good field guide with you.

Each species has 90 to 100 words to cover field marks, similar species, voice and habitat. In some cases like the Black-Backed Woodpecker, only 56 words are used. The writing is great, but the scope of the book does not allow in-depth coverage of each species.

Range finding is limited to a chart with six rows for regions and four rows for seasons. In Alaska, six regions are equal to six average states in the lower forty eight and saying Common, Uncommon or Rare in a region doesn't help pinpoint the species much. A map would do better to give an idea of locations (at least pointing out a species as coastal, or centered on mountain ranges in a given area etc.)

I wouldn't talk anyone out of getting this book, it is beautiful and well written, but if you are planning a birding trip and need to find locations - try West's A Birders Guide to Alaska, and if you are unsure of your ability to indentify birds in Alaska, at least augment this book with the Sibley or National Geographic Guides. If you going to one of the shorebird festivals, definitely get a specialized guide like Paulson's Shorebird Guide.

***** Update *******
There is now a new edition of this book since this review was written, for the most part, the strengths and weaknesses are the same. However, the one thing that has changed strikingly is that many if not most of the photos were replaced and are even better than those from the last edition. A beautiful book just got more beautiful.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
GREAT BOOK! April 4 2000
By Greg Henrikson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is *the* book for Alaska birding, and it's well-written enough to serve as pleasure reading even for those outside the state. The birds are organized logically, with detailed descriptions of habitat, similar species, and markings. Each description is accompanied by excellent all-color photos, many showing female and male and sometimes seasonal variations. Unlike other large bird guides, this one's easy to use in the field.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Best Book on Birds of Alaska! May 13 2000
By Betty E. Marriott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robert Armstrong is an incredibly fine and thorough researcher! His books are not only understandably written and informative, but beautiful as well. Every photograph pictures the birds in full color, often showing both the male and female, which adds to the usefulness and value of this book. Definitely a Bible for any nature lover.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Loved having it Aug. 15 2006
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We've traveled to Alaska more than once, and both times enjoyed having this guide book along to help identify birds, especially those not seen in the lower 48 states.

From sooty shearwaters and bald eagles to horned and tufted puffins, one can find all sorts of sea and birds of prey here, as well as wood and grassland birds.

A wonderful source to carry along and help identify species one has previously never seen.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An excellent photographic field guide May 21 2009
By Timothy B. Riley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My first field guide to birds used photographs instead of illustrations, as does this book. It was great for a beginner because I could see what the birds looked like in real life, not a "sketch". I think that many others that are new to birding feel that way as well, hence the popularity of Stoke's, National Geographic, etc. Now that I am well into my 2nd decade of birding I have found that field guides with drawings of the birds (like Peterson's and Sibley's) are much more reliable and dependable. They are usually much more scientific and can show you field marks that are not easily seen in even the best of photographs.

That being said, when I planned a birding trip to Alaska I decided on the Guide to the Birds of Alaska for several reasons. First, Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America contains birds that I have no chance on seeing on my trip, making it a little harder to use (no Roadrunners in Alaska). Second, since I have never birded Alaska I wanted a book focused on that state only so that I could study it before the trip. Lastly, I like looking at the photos. The quality of the photography is very, very good for a field guide. A few of them (the Black Oystercatcher on a nest with a snowcapped mountain behind it and the shot of a Cassin's Auklet skimming across the water) are beautiful photos in their own right.

One thing that it took me a little time to get used to was the Distribution Chart. Most field guides have small maps on each page and are color coded for where and when a bird might be found. This guide uses a chart and codes instead. However, once I got used to it I actually liked this feature. Another thing; the order of the families seemed unusual and does not follow the established ornithological precedent of listing the oldest species first, then graduating to more recently evolved birds. Still, it was close enough that it didn't throw me off too badly.

All it all I would recommend this guide to anyone heading to Alaska and is interested in wild birds. However, I have to confess that I also brought my Sibley's (just as a back up!).

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America


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