Dan's Reviews > Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Ted Floyd
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's review
Apr 22, 2010

really liked it

While you can't go wrong with this field guide you don't need it if you already have either Sibley, Nat Geo 5th edition, Peterson, or Kaufmann. What does this book add to the competitive field guide market? Basically a disc with bird calls in MP3 format. Be warned however that the disc is a DVD and will only be useful if your computer has a DVD drive. It will not work in regular CD players, CD drives, or even in MP3-compatible CD players (like my car stereo). It did not play on our DVD player either but it may play on more updated/integrated audio/TV systems. So in order to listen to the disc I had to convert all them to MP3 on CD and that takes 2 discs. Also, the front of the book proudly announces "587 downloadable birds songs" but the fine print on page 491 (and the back cover) reveal that 138 species are covered. But these species are a good selection of starter species throughout N. Amer and a good variety of calls and songs within species. So this field guide is an excellent choice for a tech savvy newish/younger birder without any/many bird guides already. One other note: the illustrations are photos and suffer from the same problems with other photo-based field guides - namely the lighting and postures are not controlled or consistent and can make comparisons among species problematic. For example look at the Empidonax flycatcher section (a difficult group to identify) and try to compare primary extension among species. Aside from that issue the photographs are generally excellent (better than stokes and audubon guides). Finally, why did they change the color scheme on the range maps from the typical blue/winter, purple/all year, red/summer? It only confuses the issue. Ok, so Sibley modified it too but now we have 3 schemes to juggle if we refer to multiple books.

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