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A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America

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Features the unique Peterson Identification System, which has never been surpassed as a tool for field identification and is available only in Peterson Guides. "The Birder's Bible" for over sixty years. All the birds of eastern and central North America--including accidentals, exotics, and escapes--shown in full color and described in detail. 390 complete, easy-to-read ran Features the unique Peterson Identification System, which has never been surpassed as a tool for field identification and is available only in Peterson Guides. "The Birder's Bible" for over sixty years. All the birds of eastern and central North America--including accidentals, exotics, and escapes--shown in full color and described in detail. 390 complete, easy-to-read range maps showing summer and winter ranges, breeding grounds, and other special range information. Easy-to-use facing-page format.


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Features the unique Peterson Identification System, which has never been surpassed as a tool for field identification and is available only in Peterson Guides. "The Birder's Bible" for over sixty years. All the birds of eastern and central North America--including accidentals, exotics, and escapes--shown in full color and described in detail. 390 complete, easy-to-read ran Features the unique Peterson Identification System, which has never been surpassed as a tool for field identification and is available only in Peterson Guides. "The Birder's Bible" for over sixty years. All the birds of eastern and central North America--including accidentals, exotics, and escapes--shown in full color and described in detail. 390 complete, easy-to-read range maps showing summer and winter ranges, breeding grounds, and other special range information. Easy-to-use facing-page format.

30 review for A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blakeslee

    I collect bird guides, but when I actually go out in the field, this is the ONLY book I bring with me. It's truly indispensable -- and I'll always love it for describing chimney swifts as "cigars with wings."

  2. 4 out of 5

    C.

    My late husband and I had a blast using this book while observing the birds at our backyard feeders when we lived in the country. Highly recommended for bird watchers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    This is the famed Peterson's Guide. It is illustrated using paintings by Roger Tory Peterson. In a nice touch, the incomplete plate (page with the painting of birds) that he was working on when he died is found in the preface by his wife, and the forward references the completed version that was completed by a friend for inclusion in this Fifth edition. The plates include lines that indicate field marks. The actual mark descriptions are in the short paragraph that is with each bird. Between 4 and This is the famed Peterson's Guide. It is illustrated using paintings by Roger Tory Peterson. In a nice touch, the incomplete plate (page with the painting of birds) that he was working on when he died is found in the preface by his wife, and the forward references the completed version that was completed by a friend for inclusion in this Fifth edition. The plates include lines that indicate field marks. The actual mark descriptions are in the short paragraph that is with each bird. Between 4 and 6 birds are in every pair of facing pages, with between 1 and 5 poses for each bird. The illustrations are fairly large, and clear. The text covers several categories, visual description included differences between male, female and juvenile, similar species, description of the range, voice, and habitat. With this much to cover, the wording is terse. Also, there is a thumbnail range map. A larger range map is in the back. There are many reviewers who complain about the range maps being in the back of the book, presumably they are discussing a previous edition. What Peterson introduced with this guide was a way to identify species in the field, without having to capture or shoot the specimen. In this case, the field marks. For each species, he gives marks (distinctive markings) that distinguish one bird from others of the same family. For example, if a woodpecker is small and has a red spot on the nape of the neck with a white stripe down the back, it could be Downy woodpecker. But if its bill is as long as its head and the outside tail feathers are all white (no black spots) it probably is a hairy woodpecker. If it is large, has a red crest that extends to its bill, and the wing has a white leading edge and black trailing edge, it is a Pileated. If the trailing edge is white, the red crest does not go all the way to the front of the head and you are in a southern old growth forest, well, that could very well mean something else, especially in 2005-2006. I suppose that a true birder does not memorize field marks, instead has an intuitive understanding just by looking as to what species a given bird is. But for those of us who have not attained enlightment, we identify the basic type, then use the marks to home in on the species, or note things to look for when we hit our field guide. And the Peterson's does a good job of that. For identiying what is in the air around us, this is a delight to use, and the order gets intuitive after not long. There is something thrilling of paging through a field guide and realizing you just figured out what that bird you could not identify was, and going out in the field again and wondering if you will see it again. This is a field guide, and its purpose is identification. It is not a guide of ornithology. If the goal is to understand birds, look elsewhere. But it serves its purpose well, and its cover and construction give me confidence it should survive many walks stuffed in my jacket pocket and thumbed through in the field.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    This book was owned by my mother--who was the nature lover and birder in the family. She found more to watch then you might expect living in New York City. We lived near Central Park, which is something of a bird sanctuary. This book taught her a lot that she passed on to me, Though I'm by no means the naturist she was, I do appreciate the way this book made me more aware of the birds around me. I was oblivious before to all but the pigeons ("rock doves" in this book) and sparrows. After this I This book was owned by my mother--who was the nature lover and birder in the family. She found more to watch then you might expect living in New York City. We lived near Central Park, which is something of a bird sanctuary. This book taught her a lot that she passed on to me, Though I'm by no means the naturist she was, I do appreciate the way this book made me more aware of the birds around me. I was oblivious before to all but the pigeons ("rock doves" in this book) and sparrows. After this I was more aware of the occasional American Robin, Cardinal and Blue Jays I'd see around the streets, let alone the Mourning Dove, Chickadees, Mockingbird, Oriole, Tufted Titmice among others I could spot in Central Park. Somehow it all made New York City a friendlier and more magical place.

  5. 5 out of 5

    max

    Talk about definitive. There are others, but this was the first that was intended to provide specific identification aids in the field. It still rules. It is often fun just to do some armchair browsing through its gorgeous plates and recall what I have seen and where, and what I have not seen. Birding is such a sweet pastime, and is fun either alone or in the company of others, especially highly skilled observers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brian Cassada

    Great book for birding. Use it often. The tips that each color plate has to help point specific unique characteristics for each bird are extremely helpful. This book came to me by way of a friend who was pointed to it by some more advanced bird watchers. Definitely a must have book for those who enjoy bird watching.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This is THE book my parents taught me with on our hikes. I've carried it with me all over the continent. When a mysterious bird drops by our bird feeder it's the book my children reach for. It rarely spends time on the shelf.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Carey

    For me this is the quintessential bird guide. My copy has little bits of post-it sticking out all over. I recommend it to anyone who loves watching birds.

  9. 4 out of 5

    PoachingFacts

    Peterson's A Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America (Sixth Edition), attributed to Roger Tory Peterson, was most recently published in 2010. Peterson Field Guides compete directly with The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition and Princeton Field Guides on similar areas of focus, although there may not be a direct equivalent for North American birds from Princeton Field Guides. It also competes to a degree with the National Audubon Society’s fiel Peterson's A Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America (Sixth Edition), attributed to Roger Tory Peterson, was most recently published in 2010. Peterson Field Guides compete directly with The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition and Princeton Field Guides on similar areas of focus, although there may not be a direct equivalent for North American birds from Princeton Field Guides. It also competes to a degree with the National Audubon Society’s field guides, which are actually in a narrower format and more portable in some cases. (If you’ve read our review of Peterson’s A Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (Fourth Edition) then the remainder of the review and our conclusion regarding the functionality of the book, is identical with only minor changes where appropriate relating to the number of species represented, color plates, and so on.) This Sixth Edition claims a few significant improvements compared to previous editions, though it’s unlikely to be worth upgrading from the Fifth Edition. Paul Lehman and Michael O’Brien have gone to great lengths to improve the accuracy of the data and provide updated range maps for numerous species while Michael DiGiorgio improved the digitized plates where necessary, building on updates to the Fifth Edition. Overall, the Field Guide offers a number of useful features, some duplicated for ease of access at the beginning of the book and at the beginning of the appropriate section, achieving an ease of use that will help novices quickly identify birds but may not provide enough detail or have a comprehensive enough format to satisfy more experienced birders. There are 333 color-coded pages describing the size, voice, habitats, scarcity, classification, nomenclature, and “similar species” of over 500 species comprising over 30 families of birds with ranges within Eastern and Central North America, including eastern Mexico. For those seeking the most comprehensive coverage of species, this does not compare favorably to the 650 species in the Sibley field guide for the same region. The 159 color plates contained within the Peterson Field Guide primarily offer illustrations for adult plumages of males and females, with some species getting the requisite illustrations for adolescent plumage or seasonal changes which are essential to identification. Over all, the color reproduction and clarity from the latest editions of Peterson Field Guides are on par or better than what is found in Princeton Field Guides, although we can’t speak to the accuracy of the color reproduction with respect to actual bird plumage, since individual species’ plumage can vary significantly from one region to the next. National Audubon Society field guides on birds have color photos which some people may appreciate more, however the plates found in the Peterson Field Guides are so large and life-like that there are unlikely to be many complaints beyond plumage accuracy. Videos on the Peterson Field Guides’ YouTube channel are a free supplement to this guide. Towards the back of the book just under one hundred pages are dedicated to enlarged “range maps” depicting the same ranges accompanying nearly all of the bird species described, but with the benefit of being a larger size. These range maps are fit 6 to a page and have both a map number and the page number of the corresponding species, making it incredibly easy to turn to the larger range map when wanting a more detailed view or back to the species data. This feature also makes it very easy to plan trips around what birds will be in their seasonal or year-round ranges simply by looking at all the range maps side-by-side and deciding on what areas will help you check off your "life list." The last ten pages before the index feature a "life list" with a checkmark spot beside each species so readers can make a note of whether or not they’ve observed this species (with enough space to write in a state abbreviation to denote where they’ve seen it). Life lists are a key way for novice and veteran birders alike to keep track of what species they’ve had the pleasure of observing and such a functional – and essential – element for birding enthusiasts is a great inclusion in this Field Guide. Like many field guides, the index lists all the bird species described within. The Peterson Field Guide offers a functional twist on the traditional alphabetized index by providing an alphabetically sorted list of both scientific and common names together, making it very easy to find the page number, or range map, of a specific species regardless of which name springs to mind first. 70 silhouettes of bird species are also included to round out the last pages of the field guide and make rapid- or distant-identification easier. The Field Guide is laid out in a way familiar to anyone who has used field guides from other publishers and provides a good entry-level bird identification book with some features that may provide better subjective functionality in some areas while falling short in others. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition and The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America may offer a superior overall format and more comprehensive collection of individual species and illustrations depicting identifying features and seasonal or regional variations and should be the first consideration for those seeking to invest in a standard-sized field guide. For those looking for something more compact and portable with a similar coverage of information then National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region and National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Region are great choices.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This is a must have guide if you live in or are traveling to the Eastern and Central North America area. With numerous birds visiting daily to my backyard, this resource is always within arms reach, usually sitting next to a camera. Pictures are bright making identification easy and the book is laid out in a very easy to use format.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    This book is a keeper , as an Ontario resident, it is a must , pelee Island adventures , always on the lookout for a new species, this book cannot be surpassed as a tool!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This guide can't be beat for helping new birders identify what is in their yard. Has my Life List in it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    The all time great bird book to beat all bird books. Even fits in your pocket!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Informative and simple to use, even for the non-birder.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dane

    This is my "go-to" book for identifying birds. A "must" for every bird-lover. It's a reference book, you know, so I'll never really finish reading it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DRugh

    Classic and very well organized reference. Highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Shugart

    A must have for birders.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Em Rain

    Great field guide to help me with birding and my ornithology class!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Olsen

    good reference for birdfeeder watching

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zsazsa Leverett

    It has been extremely helpful in my birding adventures this past year. Here's to more years with this Field Guide!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jerry M

    This edition is a bit long in the tooth, but it is the one I carry in my car. It fits into a large pocket of my light weight jacket and it is easy to carry. It is also extremely well made. I dropped my previous copy into the water more than once and my current copy is about 15 years old. Peterson was a better artist than Sibley and he was better served by his printer. If you see the most recent Sibley you would be appalled at the way it was printed. Peterson's system of field marks is the best w This edition is a bit long in the tooth, but it is the one I carry in my car. It fits into a large pocket of my light weight jacket and it is easy to carry. It is also extremely well made. I dropped my previous copy into the water more than once and my current copy is about 15 years old. Peterson was a better artist than Sibley and he was better served by his printer. If you see the most recent Sibley you would be appalled at the way it was printed. Peterson's system of field marks is the best way to quickly ID birds in the field. It isn't perfect but it was a great idea done very well. Peterson does not cover every plumage variation but no pocket sized edition does. As long as you understand the limitations, this book is still good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Suzyberry

    This is far and away the best birding book ever written. Roger Tory Peterson knew birds better than Audubon and his artwork and pinpoint perfect descriptions and maps are beyond excellent. I have been a birdwatcher for over 30 years and have relied exclusively on his book the entire time. My original copy is well-worn and well-loved with dates beside each bird I've seen...now have a new copy, but keep grabbing the old one because it is like a dear, old friend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I remember looking through my mom's Peterson guide--it's old, it's hard-bound, with a green cloth cover--and finding the color plates fascinating. The pictures Peterson painted help me to identify birds far better than any of the photographs used in other guides. This edition will not disappoint if you prefer the illustrations to the photographs.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I own many many field guilds. This is the guild that everyone told me that I should get and use, but frankly I have never really liked it. If someone were new to birds I would suggest the Kaufman (my favorite) or if you were just wanted something to stay in the house I would go with the Crossley (which I think may be better if you were completely new). Beautiful art though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Greg Majewski

    Plain and simple, this book is how I got so interested in birds. There may be newer, "better" field guides available today, but Peterson will always be my go-to. Even if you are not a birder, perusing the illustrations will leave you in awe of the hundreds (thousands?) of birds around you that you never knew about and then make you point and yell "Hey! I've seen that before!"

  26. 4 out of 5

    The Peterson guides have always been right at the top, both for ease of identification and for ease of use. I am waiting for the bird calls to be inserted with each remnant dinosaur, right there with the picture. Juveniles excepted. Probably coming, but not soon.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I also have an older ed., a yardsale find, so I can always have one in the car and one in the house. Identifying birds has made me a better observer of the physical world and on adventures in the surrounding area gives me a sense of wildness in the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tofu Fairy

    I have had this field guide for many years and love love love it. It is still my go-to place to help id any bird that I have never seen before or am unsure of. GREAT reference for any birder, novice or green.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karena

    After going to the Spring Bird Festival at Tommy Thompson Park yesterday, I realize that the names in this version might be outdated. See "Oldsquaw," which is now called Long-Tailed Duck. Also, the descriptions are pretty succinct.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    "Common Loon. Gavia immer. Voice: in breeding season, falsetto wails, weird yodeling, maniacal quavering laughter; at night, a tremulous ha-oo-oo. In flight, a barking kwuk. Usually silent in nonbreeding season. "

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