Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My $.02: Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds

Recently I heard about the newly released Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America. After reading a couple "right on the mark" blog reviews, one over at 10,000 birds and the other at The Drinking Bird, I started looking for the book. I found it at Sam's Club for $15.74. So I bought it. You can work hard in cyber space and win a copy. Check out the details here!

Anyway, this is a guide worth checking out. To me, it does for "photo" field guides what Sibley did for "illustration" field guides. It is clearly in a class by itself, far superior to either the Audubon Society guide and the Kaufmann Focus Guide, and is equally useful for a beginner and an advanced birder. The CD of bird songs that comes with it is limited, but it's basically free. The field guide is well worth the money.

I still believe that the illlustrated Sibley Guide to Birds is the best North American guide ever. For instance, I noticed that a first year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with its buffy plumage, which can be confused with a Black-headed Grosbeak under the right conditions, is not photographed. Sibley covers this alternate plumage well. In fact, there is little that Sibley misses and his illustrations (art, actually) cannot be matched in North America. I am, however, a fan of Lars Jonsson's art in the Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East, but that's a blog entry for another day.

I expect that this is a field guide that we will see in increasing numbers in the coming year. At $15.74 for over 2000 digital photos of 750 North American birds, you can't go wrong! Add this one to your bird reference shelf.


Charlie said...

Hi Greg. I hope you don't mind me commenting like this, but I thought your readers might like to know that we're giving away TEN copies of this great book AND an iPod in a free competition. Details are at http://10000birds.com/wow-another-great-give-away-on-10000-birds.htm

(Apologies if this breaches netiquette, but we're not making any money ourselves out of this comp and thought you'd be interested)

Greg said...

Not a problem at all. In fact, I enthusiastically linked to the contest site at the end of the first paragraph. Let me know if I have the wrong link. I notice there's a June 16 and June 17 blog entry on it. I haven't studied it enough yet to figure it all out!

But, readers, you heard the man. Get over there to 10,000 Birds and chase that bird...... or, uh,, bird guide!

Elizabeth J. Rosenthal said...

Thanks for your review, which I really enjoyed.

Birders should be aware of my new book, Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, out now from The Lyons Press.

Peterson played a central role in the expansion of birding not only in the US, but also Europe and East Africa. My book details these things, as well as demonstrating the breadth of his involvement and leadership in nature education and many of the most celebrated conservation causes of the 20th century. From his early 20s onward, Peterson was teaching about all aspects of nature, sometimes informally, sometimes formally, through his writings, lectures, books and work with various conservation organizations.

Also, the reader learns about Peterson the Man: what motivated him, personal and professional challenges he faced, and his personal impact on many of today's top birders and conservationists.

I ended up talking to well over 100 people from around the world to put together this portrait of a complex and driven man. Birders, natural history buffs, and conservationists alike will enjoy the book.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at ejrose@aol.com.


Greg said...

Thanks, Elizabeth,
I'll be looking for your book! Certainly birding would not be what it is today without Peterson's lasting contributions.

troutbirder said...

Very appealing and informative blog. I very much have enjoyed it.

Greg said...

Thanks for dropping by. I haven't taken much time to blog this summer, but know that when the birding picks up, my writing will pick up, too.
I saw on your profile that you are into Yellowstone. We're heading there in early August. Can't wait, as I was 4 years ago the last time I visited there!