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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on November 17, 2003
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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on May 22, 2001
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!
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on September 13, 2000
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!
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on January 7, 2001
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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on June 29, 2004
I grew up with an aunt who loved Birding. When I was a child she gave me a Golden Books Guide. I havent birded since and decided to buy a new book and compare the two.. Ken's guide blows it away..Many have opinions about the advantage/disadvantage of photographs or paintings, but after having the book I'll choose Ken s photos every time. He did a superb job with this book and photos. I always hated how the books with painted images appeared brighter in its colors than the birds in real life. I went thru most every pocket sized guide outthere and this book was my #1 pick. It has a tougher Flexicover than most all others and the color coded pages are quick and easy for a novice. The picture set ups are great and not jumbled/jammed together as other books. Granted this is not a desk manual so it only has the minumum required info on each bird, but thats all you need for a pocket field guide.
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on June 24, 2003
I've owned and enjoyed numerous field guides through my 50+ years of life: Peterson, Golden, National Geographic Society, Audubon, Sibley and Kaufman. My homes have been Illinois, Alaska and Montana. The guide I carry in the field today is Kaufman's BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA.
His digitally altered photographs are not as lovely as the paintings in the latest NGS, Sibley or Peterson guides (which I own and admire). His written comments are enjoyable, brief and apt. Kaufman's guide works best, I believe, for quick identification in the field. That is why this is the first bird book I give to my friends.
Negatives? Sure. I do not care for the colored pages (indexing okay, but not entire pages), and I think some of the owls look weird.
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on December 10, 2000
I have tried carrying a variety of field guides over the past 20 years, but I always returned to the Golden guide because of the maps and organization. That is, until the Kenn Kaufman book arrived. This guide is perfect when you're in the field and your in a hurry. The most helpful page is the very last one, which is a summarized index. I love this guide, and I'm buying it for all my non-birding friends who are always asking me to id birds at their feeders. Anyone at any level of birding will love this!
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on January 11, 2001
This is a magnificent guide, especially for beginners. Expert birders may prefer the encyclopedic guide by David Sibley, another excellent piece of work. This guide has a number of advantages as a guide:
It easily fits into your pocket It has a handy thumb index, once you get used to it It has a comprehensive index inside the back cover The photos are superb, and the color matches better than any other guide I know.
I highly recommend this guide.
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on June 4, 2002
I bought this book a year ago so I could identify the birds coming to my backyard feeder, and I still keep it by my sofa. The illustrations are very good, the descriptions clear, and the maps showing the range of each of the birds very useful. I've been able to identify every bird passing through my yard, and even enjoy browsing the pitcures/write-ups of those birds I likely will never see.
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on September 28, 2000
Throw away all of your field guides and buy the Kaufman Focus Guide. It is all here in a clear and concise format.
The computer-doctored photos are outstanding. The habitat and range maps are large and easy to see.
I really like the colored tab format for various bird groups that ties back to the title page. I also like the index summary on the last page.
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