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National Geographic Field Guide To The Birds Of North America Third Edition Paperback – Apr 1 1999

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Paperback, Apr 1 1999
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 3rd Revised edition edition (April 1 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792274512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792274513
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 2.9 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,398,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The field reference of choice for serious birders since its inception, the third edition has been updated to reflect new bird ranges in North America as well as the always controversial reclassifications of species and subspecies. The expanded text includes even more notes on identification, behavior, habitat, and song, while the illustrations--now revised and sharpened--depict individual species in varying plumage, often with habitat cues in the background. Like the first two editions, the guide combines accurate illustrations with useful maps and text in a portable format. Beginners and experts alike will flock to this handy field guide.

From School Library Journal

YA-An excellent choice for both beginning and expert birders. The highly appealing format is arranged by species for easy use, and is complemented by gorgeous illustrations. The readable text provides basic information on families, scientific names, plumage sequences, field marks, measurements, voices, behaviors, and habitats, as well as range maps. Practical tips on buying binoculars and telescopes are an added bonus. This is a natural companion to the regional field guides done by the Audubon Society (Houghton) and Peterson's Guides. National Geographic's volume has the most and the best pictures; Audubon presents the most facts; and Peterson gives additional bits of information that the others ignore. Essential for school and public library collections, Field Guide to the Birds of North America would also make an ideal gift.
Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

By Magellan on Dec 4 2002
Format: Paperback
My natural history interests are mainly in botany and mycology, but I also have an interest in birding, and I own dozens of bird identification books, and this is one of my favorites. Although there may be better books for the field or for home reference now, such as the newer Sibley, Kaufmann, or Smithsonian books, this is still a good work for general identification purposes, and it's served me well for that. Since this one was written there has even been a large, Reader's Digest volume about 10 years ago that was actually pretty well done, I thought, so everybody seems to be getting into the act.
As another reviewer here perceptively pointed out, the paintings in this book are more modeled and 3-dimensional looking, compared to the classic Peterson book, which look flatter and less solid. Also, the colors are more muted, and therefore more realistic to me. Both the Peterson and NG books have good field notes and tips on behavior which are useful. The 3-volume Smithsonian guides have great pictures, of course, but they're better for home use since carrying three books in the field usually isn't practical.
There are other specific differences between this and the Peterson book, but others have already pointed these out here, so I'll just conclude by saying if I had to have just one guide, this would definitely be in my top 3 for the honor.
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Format: Paperback
For years, I've used the Peterson field guides to identify birds. Most of my bird watching has taken place in the Eastern U.S. mountains and north and south of the coastal area where I live, as well as WI (summer) and LA (winter). The Petersen guide book for the Eastern region meets most of my needs, but I also own several other books (Smithsonian and Audubon). I became interested in the National Geographic book BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA because I admire the NG magazine.
The NG is a heavier book than the Eastern Peterson, perhaps because it shows birds from both the Eastern and Western areas of the country, but the Peterson maps show the full range of "Eastern" birds--even if a range extends to the West. Both books show ranges that extend into Canada. The NG book is nifty because the little maps that appear in the back of the Petersen books are on the same page as the bird illustrations.
The birds illustrated in both books are clustered by category. For example, Petersen shows male and female Downey, Hairy, Northern Three-toed, and Black-backed woodpeckers together, as does the NG. The Petersen guide has little arrows that point to distinguishing marks, but NG does not. I find these indicator arrows very helpful when I am trying to tell two closely marked birds apart. The NG does show a tiny row of variants across the bottom of the page (For example, the woodpecker page = fasciatus, dosalis, orius, etc.)
The bird colors are less differentiated in the Peterson than the NG illustrations. For example, stripes on the Peterson Three-toed woodpecker's belly are less articulated than those shown on the NG bird. I don't think this matters as one seldom gets close enough to see the mottling.
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Format: Paperback
5 years ago this field guide was required for all serious birders but with the new field guides this one isn't need any longer. It's a bit too big to easily carry around the field and Sibley's is a better guide for the home. Kaufman's Birds of NA is a better book to carry around.
If you like to have bird guides this is one of the best but it's no longer the best.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 51 reviews
96 of 96 people found the following review helpful
THE ONE to get if you only get ONE -- THE BEST gift !! Nov. 16 2000
By Richard W. Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been birding for 20 years. My life list is a respectable 445 species in North America. While some reviewers may not carry this book around, I will guarantee you the National Geographic Society (NGS) Field Guide to the Birds of North America is the #1 choice among every birder I know. On my shelf I have a dozen fact probably every one published. This one is HANDS DOWN my favorite. What makes it so good? With due respect to Roger Tory Peterson, the illustrations and written clues in the NGS guide are unmatched. Secondly, in the 3d edition, National Geographic has demonstrated a fervent desire to keep up with the ever-changing naming conventions from the American Ornithological Union. Other guides are simply not keeping pace. If you are new to this hobby, this is THE guide. If someone told you they are interested, but they don't know where to start, this is THE guide.
The one to get if you only get one. The one to use if you have many.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Jan. 12 2002
By James D. DeWitt - Published on
Format: Paperback
For birders, there's never been a better time to find a field guide. Sibley and Kauffman have both published very good guides recently, serious competition for the venerable National Geographic guide.
First, you can't go wrong with any of the three. They are all very good, although each brings different strengths and weaknesses.
Second, if you bird with a companion, carry different guides: one of you take National Geographic and one of you take Sibley or Kauffman.
Third, measure your skill level against the assumptions of the various guides. If you are a novice, then Kauffman might be your best choice. If you are a beginner who has a bit of experience, then National Geo may be your best choice. If you are an advanced beginner or better, then perhaps Sibley.
But as an overall choice, with decent art (although not quite as good as Sibley), decent identification highlights (although not quite as good as Kauffman), quite good behavior cues, excellent treatment of vagrant birds and highly readable text, National Geographic emerges as the most versatile of the three.
If you can, get all three. If you can't get all three, this is probably, by the thinnest of margins, the best choice.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Birders Bible Jan. 8 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Just like that holy book, you will find this excellent book by National Geographic is constantly referred to. As you would expect from any field guide, it is beautifully illustrated. That's usually not enough though to help you positively identify some species, regardless of whether you are an expert or casual birder. The field notes associated with each birds' illustration come in very handy. They give vital clues about behavior, habitat or some other factor that can help clinch the identification. Small maps showing breeding, year round and winter ranges are well placed on each page and are there to provide quick geographic checks. Helps avoid situations like this: "I just saw a Louisiana Waterthrush. Oh wait, I'm in South Florida, can't be then, it must have been a Northern."
The only other way I can endorse this book is to say that I have quite a few other guides and reference books and when going out birding with my family and I say "bring the field guides" this is usually the first one grabbed.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Great Field Guide March 1 2002
By Erin K. Darling - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've been birding for about 5 years, and this is the book I always have with me on birding expeditions - it's small enough to portable (though not small enough for a pocket,) and the illustrations are excellent in quality. Has very nice comparison pages, showing several similar-looking species, such as ducks, hawks, gulls, and warblers. The descriptions are generally very good, and contain useful distinguishing information.
Generally, I prefer drawings/paintings to actual photographs when using birding books - I've found that often times, the photographs in birding books are less than good examples of several species, especially when there are one or more variations. Also, with illustrations, the artist controls the lighting, the angle, et cetera. Since this book uses illustrations, so perhaps I'm biased toward it in that way.
I have about a dozen birding field guides, and the only one I like better than this one is the Sibley; however, the extremely large size of that book prevents me from taking it on any but short trips. The NGS book here is more than sufficient for most birders, I would imagine. Another plus is that it's all the birds of the continent, period; no need to buy an Eastern/Western edition when you travel to other areas of the country.
An excellent book, all around.
65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Not A Bad Guide, But Doesn't Go With Me When I go Birding Aug. 8 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've owned this book for a couple of years or so. It's a guide I'll refer to when I'm at home, but I don't like using it out in the field. It's a guide that I've never felt very comfortable using. There are better ones out there than this. I can't quite point my finger at what I don't like about this book. The information and maps are fine. I guess it would have to be the fact that the book's drawings don't seem as good as other guides illustrations. The book is quite large also, and not really pocket sized. My favorite illustrated guides are Roger Tory Peterson's Eastern Birds and All the Birds of North America (the drawings are more reliable in these I believe).