Boost Your Bird-Watching with National Geographic's 'Complete Birds of North America'

| 12/12/2014 3:24:00 PM

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

When you spot a bird in flight or perched on a fence row and you simply can't rest until you know what kind of bird it is, what family it belongs to, where it ranges and how it sounds, then you, my fine-feathered friend, may be a birder. And this encyclopedic bird guide may be just the thing for your bird-watching pleasure.

At 700+ pages, the National Geographic Complete Birds of North America probably isn't something you'll schlep around with you on a camping trip, and, arguably, an app might be more useful in the field. (The smaller, lighter-weight National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America would be easier for schlepping.) Still this big book is a large delight. I spent an afternoon dreamily thumbing through it as I did when I was a kid, sitting in my room surrounded by encyclopedias. I had no particular destination, and I certainly enjoyed the journey.

This second edition is a fully revised and updated version of National Geographic's most popular birding guide, with fascinating, detailed information on more than 1,000 species of birds. Edited by best-selling birding author and field-guide illustrator Jonathan Alderfer, the book is a comprehensive reference that covers all North American wild bird species, as well as a variety of exotic species that are already becoming established or simply frequently visiting our climes.

More than 4,000 annotated illustrations by expert bird artists fill its pages, along with color photos and updated range and migration maps. More than 800 maps can be found in this edition, showing range, routes and historical data.

My one complaint is with the index, which required a bit of frustrating detective work on a couple of species. It seems intuitive that, if I want to read about the Tennessee Warbler, for example, somewhere in the index I might locate it under "Tennessee" or "Warblers." I did find it (see below), but only after thumbing through several pages on "Warblers."

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