5.0 out of 5 stars A new approach to a field guide...
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...
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by J. Guild
3.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, for a photo guide
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...
Published on March 6 2002 by Erin K. Darling
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new approach to a field guide...,
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, for a photo guide,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars I thought it would be better,
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).... The range maps make effective use of the color, using blue, light blue, red, pink, dark purple, light purple, grey, and white (8 each) to distinguish between scare and common distributions within winter range, summer range, migratory range, and 'all-seasons' range.... This is a pretty good book, and well worth adding to one's library -- but it is not the 'perfect reference.' I'm still looking......
5.0 out of 5 stars This veteran birder's favorite field guide,
I started birdwatching in the mid-seventies and used as my first field guide the Golden book. It is the perfect size to go anywhere and it includes the range maps of the species on the same page as the painting of the bird. (My major complaint of the Peterson guide is the maps are at the back of the book.) The Golden was my favorite until I purchased the National Geographic 3rd edition. The NG contains more variations of each species with great detail. However, this turned out to be a double-edged sword. Too much detail to look through on an unfamiliar bird, and the book is cumbersome in the field. Checking out Ken Kaufman's new field guide from my local library and using it during the waterfowl migration this spring, convinced me it is my must have book in the field. I was never a fan of the photographic guides, but with today's technology, Kaufman and his crew hit a home run. Clear digitally- enhanced photos. It IS field guide size with range maps next to the bird's picture. The one-page, short index inside the back cover is very helpful in looking up a bird quickly. I own eight field guides including the Sibley guide, but this is the one I take in the field. If you're looking for a single book to get started in birdwatching, this is my pick. Happy birding!
4.0 out of 5 stars Bird Guru Kaufman helps beginners,
That amazing guru Kenn Kaufman has finally finished his all new birding field guide "Birds of North America" using touched up photographs and "pointers"(similar to Peterson) I think this guide will catch on and be loved by amature and beginner birders.
I think the maps are very good and the many colors used really help the maps.Kenn uses two colors for the each of the seasonal ranges. A darker color indicates the area where the species is common during that season, while a paler color indicates areas where the species while present is less common or rare.
The pictures for me at times can become a little crowded and some of the photos are a little pale, but most of them are much better than any other "photo guide". Some of my Photos and ink smeared in my book, so you may want to double check before purchasing your book. This field guide makes it very simple to look up a bird on the field. The Color Tabs are simple as well as the index in the back. I enjoyed the vocal I.D. for each bird but that is a very personal taste.
Each I.D. also adds a little something I miss in a lot of field guides, for example: "A hyperactive midget, common in winter in woods and thickets of south. Harder in summer, when often high in tall conifers. Flicks wings open and shut especially when excited." Golden-Crowned Kinglet
In closing I must say this is one of the easier field guide to birds to use and is a warm welcome to the birding community.
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing,
The much-balleyhooed technique of using computer-enhanced photographs for identification is, in my view, pretty much a bust. They still look like photographs, indeed somewhat artificial ones. Like unenhanced photographs, and unlike paintings, similar birds are often not in similar poses, which makes identification much harder. I find Kaufman's illustrations much inferior to the paintings in Peterson or the National Geographic guide. (I haven't yet seen the new Sibley guide.)
The text is often interesting, but I miss the "similar species" section which Peterson pioneered and which works so well. Kaufmann highlights important information with a little pink triangle, which is helpful.
The range maps are excellent, better than those in any other guide I've seen. Especially helpful is the inclusion of migration routes, usually omitted.
Some have commented negatively about Kaufmann's unconventional ordering of his entries. He attempts to group birds which might be mistaken for one another, which is admirable; but the result is sometimes confusing. His section on "typical songbirds" includes crows and chickadees, hardly similar species. Most birders are used to guides arranged in approximate taxonomic order, and I think Kaufmann is about 60 years too late to change that mindset.
His visual table of contents is another creative idea, but the photos are less helpful than paintings or indeed silhouettes would be. The "quick index" on the last page, locating birds by page number and a color-code which is found on the edge of the pages, is a nice touch.
All in all, this is an interesting effort with some good points, but I doubt I will ever use it in place of Peterson or NGS.
3.0 out of 5 stars Innovative and modern,
Field Guides of Birds come in two different forms and each has its supporters. Some folks prefer those showing reality using one or more photographs. Others prefer those based on paintings that can be made to highlight key features. Kaufman's Field Guide attempts to blend the two approaches by using digitally enhanced photos as its basis of identification. And they are among the best photos I've seen for this purpose. But I have to admit that they don't quite do it for me; there is a degree of artificiality to the photos that is unsatisfying. The paintings of Peterson and Sibley are, to my eyes, more useful in helping me understand the key elements of shape, plumage, and other characteristics.
Anyone who is familiar with other Field Guides will also have difficulty with Kaufman's non-standard order of images (e.g., owls and hawks grouped together). It makes finding a given group of birds difficult until or unless you become very familiar with this book.
But there is much that is good as well. The multi-colored range maps, using a variety of scales, clearly impart more information than their counterparts in many other Guides. And the Family introductions are full of useful tidbits that help you understand common characteristics of a group of related birds.
It was certainly Kaufman's misfortune that Sibley's Field Guide was published so close on the heels of his for it makes comparisons inevitable. Viewed by itself, Kaufman's book would be applauded for its innovation and the wealth of information it contains. But when compared to Sibley, it is but a distant second-best. I would consider it a welcome addition to my bookshelf, but not my first choice as either a pocketable Field Guide or a home/car reference book (I'd choose National Geographic and Sibley, respectively, for those roles). Nice to have, but not a "must-have".
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but I'm still keeping my Peterson's.,
By A Customer
Kaufmann's Focus guide is a wonderful effort and I agree with its merits as outlined admirably by previous reviewers. I have spent a couple of weekends with it, and my birding knowledge has clearly improved. However, there is one aspect of the book that I think was a mistake -- the use of colored, rather than white, pages. In different sections of the book, there are (at least) yellow pages, seafoam green pages, and sky blue pages. The problem, as any psychophysicist could tell you, is that the background colors affect one's perceptions of the bird colors. Though the sky blue background is not too bad, the odder colors are disconcerting. On those few introductory pages with normal white paper, the colors are much plainer. For me, the background colors render this guide much less pleasurable to use and I have to wonder why the book designers used these colors. So, I continue to haul my battered copy of Peterson's into the field, leaving Kaufmann and the National Geographic Guides back at home for armchair birding.
5.0 out of 5 stars The One We've Been Waiting For!,
Attention, all North American birders. The ultimate field guide has arrived--Ken Kaufman's new Focus Guide to the Birds of North America! Not since Roger Tory Peterson's landmark guides has one book combined all the essential elements a birder needs to quickly and accurately make field identifications.
Previous guides have used either artists' color plates or photographs; each has its pros and cons. But the Kaufman Guide's use of computer-enhanced and edited photographs gives us the best of both worlds and works marvelously, now that the technology makes it possible.
The ranges maps, in addition to providing the usual winter and breeding distribution, distinguish between areas where species are common and rare. They also include migration ranges, which are rarely pictured in other field guides.
Best of all, Mr. Kaufman has put all the essential facts and photos into a compact 384-page paperback that will easily fit in a coat or pants pocket. While no one book can possibly provide everything a birder might want, this one, for its size, gives one the most important info. For birds that are usually seen in flight, like pelagics, raptors and waterfowl, there are additional poses. And for those especially nasty challenges, such as juvenile gulls, fall warblers, and immature sparrows, there are also extra photos.
If you can only afford one bird book or don't care to carry a liibrary everytime you go out in the field, this is the book for you! I've been birding for nearly half a century, and this is now the one I'll take everytime!
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide,
By A Customer
Of all the bird guides in our local library, this one was the best. We recently found an injured bird in our yard and were curious to discover what it was. Most of the field books helped us narrow it down to just a couple of possibilities (we thought it might be a mockingbird) but only one book gave us the determining information... the eye color. Apparently immature mockingbirds, as this was, can have darker eyes than adults, and all the other guides we consulted neglected to tell us this, and thus confused us. This guide provided much information to distinguish adults and juveniles, males and females, and similar species. I believe it even mentioned what they eat, which I found left out of most guides. According to the other reviews, the book is unconventionally arranged, but for beginners and amateurs (like me) this hardly makes a difference. Definitely one I will consider purchasing as soon as I can afford it!
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Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman (Vinyl Bound - April 14 2005)
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