The illustrations in this book are beautiful, but in looking through them and comparing them to personal photos I have taken, I find that they are genThe illustrations in this book are beautiful, but in looking through them and comparing them to personal photos I have taken, I find that they are generally not very useful for identification....more
Most field guides have a very similar design: they are essentially laundry lists of species (some comprehnsive, some focused on common species), withMost field guides have a very similar design: they are essentially laundry lists of species (some comprehnsive, some focused on common species), with photos/drawings, brief descriptions, and maps, usually with a short introductory section on general issues of the groups involved but not much more detail than that. The new Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding is completely different. Almost a third of this ~450 page book is about learning the principles of understanding what you see (or hear) in the field. Rather than simply show you what the different species are, it teaches you how to identify the species. After the thorough and detailed "introduction" on generally how to identify birds, the rest of the book focuses on each of the major groups of birds, what the common problems are with that group, and what characters are most diagnostic. Detailed explanations are given on how to identify the more confusing species within each group. The language is clear and easy to read and the photographs are excellent and cover many more angles, ages, as variants than most. For some species they even include sonograms of the common calls, something I've never seen in another guide and which (with practice) can definitely serve as a much better indicator of call that textual descriptions.
Although it covers a reasonably large number of species, this book cannot substitue for your favorite "laundry list" field guide because it simply doesn't contain the full list/descriptions of all of the species in North America. However, not only will you want this guide as a supplement to the other guide (or perhaps, more accurately, the other guide is really the supplement to this one), unlike that guide, this is the book you will actually want to read from cover to cover, because doing so is a lesson in bird identification that standard field guides simply do not offer. This is a must read for anyone interested in birding and identifying species in the field. ...more