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Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America Vinyl Bound – Apr 14 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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  • Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
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  • Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding
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  • National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition
Total price: CDN$ 72.70
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Product Details

  • Vinyl Bound: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 14 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618574239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618574230
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2.6 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

World-renowned birder Kenn Kaufman addresses a long-running paradox of bird field guides with his Focus Guide. While beginning birdwatchers prefer photographic guides like those by Donald Stokes, the physical traits that make identification easier are more readily discerned in the idealized paintings of illustrative guides like those by Roger Tory Peterson and National Geographic. Kaufman's groundbreaking work combines the best of both approaches by digitally enhancing photographic images to show the characteristics that are sometimes not apparent in photographs.

Some other distinguishing features include:

  • The guide is organized by bird family groupings rather than strict taxonomic classification; this is a feature that will appeal especially to beginners.
  • Text descriptions and range maps for each species appear on the page facing the plate of respective bird images.
  • Important field marks are highlighted.
  • Color-coded tabs identify each grouping of birds (waders, warblers, sparrows, etc.) for quick thumb indexing.
Kaufman's efforts follow the auspicious tradition of Roger Tory Peterson, whose portable field guide system was the first of its kind to meet the needs of the average birdwatcher. "It's the guide I've always wanted," says Kaufman, "and I suspect most birders will feel the same way." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Every spring, tens of thousands of bird-watchers migrate across the country in search of vireos, towhees, and violet-crowned hummingbirds; these birders can be recognized by their binoculars, their respect for nature and their frequent stillness and near-silence. By next spring, many of them will be toting this guide. Author and illustrator Kaufman (Lives of North American Birds) has long been one of the birdwatching community's stars. His colorful, practical and very portable book aims to become the new standard in the field. The book is small enough for a big jacket pocket, and can be held in one hand; color-coded tags divide its 16 sections on 16 classes of birds ("Ducks, Geese, Swans," "Chicken-Like Birds," "Medium-Sized Land Birds," "Flycatchers," etc.). Each left-hand page describes three to six related birds, with range maps for each, color-coded for season and frequency; brief phrases give most species' song, voice or call-note. The corresponding right-hand page offers bright, high-resolution color pictures of the same birds, on a perch or in flight. Short inserts help explain, for example, how to distinguish among many similar sparrows. Kaufman's guide is revolutionary in that it's the first to use digitally altered photographs (more than 2,000 of them) rather than unretouched photos or paintings - in practice the computerized images look like extremely detailed paintings. Though he pays more attention to common birds, Kaufman is happy to cover rare visitors and migrants: here are a brace of robins, but also bluethroat (restricted to northwest Alaska, and "hard to see when not singing"), and 16 kinds of (introduced) parrots. The guide may not be the most comprehensive available, and its laconic descriptions deliberately avoid facts that won't assist identification. But Kaufman makes up for those limits with compactness, great design and ease of use - especially for beginners: an appendix leads new birders to further resources (some of them online). Major ad/promo; 22-city author tour. (Sept. 22)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book.If you are looking to buy a bird guide for yourself or as a gift, you can't go wrong with this.The problem of buying a bird guide is that there are so many to choose from;especially if the buyer has not been birding for several years.Personally,I would recommend this for a fairly new birder as opposed to Peterson's guide for one reason alone.this book covers all of North America.Peterson has one for the East and one for the West;and while if you only want your guide to use in either the East or West,that's not too bad,but if you are in the center of the continent, or plan to travel,you'll need both.So,simple ,why buy 2 when 1 will do?The Golden covers all N,A. but does not have the "arrows" pointing out the best identification features.I also feel the computer enhanced pictures are better;but that can be a matter of preference.The single page index at the back of Kenn's book will be a big help to new or average birders.Either of Kaufman,s Peterson,s or Golden are excellent to start birding.The National Geographic and Sibleys are also excellent;but a better choice for a more experienced (5+ years).Up until Kaufman's book,very few birders liked photographs ,as opposed to drawings,but this book has changed all that.
After saying all that,and it would be easy to go on comparing these guides,in the final analiyis ,you can't go too far wrong.If you or the person you are buying the book for takes birding serious you'll probably buy all the guides mentioned before too long.There are good points going for all of them.
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Format: Paperback
Let me tell you my bias up-front - I generally prefer bird guides which contain illustrations rather than photographs; I have found that poor lighting, bad angles and subjects not representative of their species tend to make their way into photo guides, thereby defeating the purpose. That said, I am very impressed with the quality of images in the Kaufman guide, likely because they're not unretouched. Kaufman uses digital editing to touch up the photographs so that each one is more representative of each species, and so that the quality of lighting is excellent.
It is of a size small enough to be easily carried into the field, unlike my favorite book, the Sibley guide, and the different page background colors are convenient for flipping quickly to the right section. There are short sections in the front of the book on "how to bird," "where to bird," and "what to look for," along with a few other blurbs, but all of this covers only nine pages total. Further, the text accompanying each bird is very short, one small paragraph.
Still, it's readily apparent that a *lot* of work went into this guide, and I'm really impressed with it. While I personally believe that it's not something a novice birder would likely find really useful, like the National Geographic Society's book, intermediate and advanced birders will likely find it easy to use for quick reference about a field marking or species differentiation. Conveniently, he covers all of the birds of North America, thereby obviating the need to purchase one book for the East, one for the West, and so forth.
My best advice is to get your hands on a copy of this book before purchasing it if you're not certain you'll like it - birding guides can be a highly-personal thing, and you may find that this review is just totally buggered! I'm still glad I own this book, and occasionally take it out into the field instead of my preferred NGS, just for the sake of variety.
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Format: Paperback
The 'touched up' photos sounded like a great idea, but I'm a bit disappointed. Anyone who has seen a Stellar's jay, a Mountain Bluebird, and a regular Blue Jay would immediately comment on the striking differences in color! But in this book all three share a common 'muddy' hue... Ruby-throated Hummingbirds regularly visit my feeder, but the photo-illustration in the book so little resembles the real bird that I would never identify it from the picture (fortunately we only have migratory Ruby-Throateds and Rufous hummingbirds in this area, so the identification issue is not critical in East Texas).... This book is very brief when it comes to descriptions, etc. For example the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird gets 88 words, whereas in my Bull/Farrand edition of "The Audubon Society Field Guild to North American Birds, Eastern Region" I get 235 words. Also, unlike the Audubon Society book, Kaufman's book does NOT break the text into secions, and it contains no section under each species describing its nesting/egg characteristics.... I have not researched why the Latin species names are different in the two books (may not be a big deal), but one example is that my Carolina Chickadees are called "Poecile carolinensis" by Kaufman, and "Parus carolinensis" by Bull and Farrand. (Those more dedicated than I may wish to check with the American Ornithologists' Union Check-Lists and Supplements).... I have given this book 4 stars despite the above issues because in most other ways this is an excellent birdbook.... I liked the photo-illustration of the juvenile Northern Cardinal, which clearly shows the distinctive dark beak (adults have reddish or orange beaks)....Read more ›
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