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The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Stokes Field Guides) Paperback – October 25, 2010
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―Wayne Petersen, Massachusetts Audubon Society
"The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America is an easy-to-use, superbly designed field guide that is detailed enough to be useful for birders of all experience levels. Highly recommended, this field guide is sure to be a delightful addition to any birder's library."―About.com Birding Guide
From the Back Cover
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- There are (MANY!) beautiful photos of each of the birds throughout the book.
- Book is organized clearly.
- Lots of helpful information and vocabulary (in color diagrams) about how to identify birds.
- Descriptions help to differentiate birds from other similar species.
- Quick index in the front (and also a FULL index in the back if needed).
- Extremely comprehensive.
Okay, sounds amazing.... so why only 4 stars?
- Birds are organized by "type" (Swallow, Thrush, Wheater, Towhee, Warbler). This might be SUPER helpful to some, but not for the novice bird watcher. I have NO IDEA what bird I am looking for! I wanted to find out what kinds of birds I was seeing in my backyard, at the feeder, and during our walks around the neighborhood and to a local stream. I have no prior knowledge of birds, so when I go to look one up I'm thinking "Which one is mostly grey ,its little, has a black head, and some white on its belly?" When looking through this book it is SO BIG and includes birds from all of North America, and is divided by type of bird - I have no idea where to even start looking!
- The descriptions aren't exactly what I was hoping for either. I think this book is better for someone who already knows the basics about birds and is trying to become a better expert at identifying very specific birds. The majority of the description listed is only about what the bird looks like. There is a note about the birds call or song, and if there is anything to say about how the bird flies, it will mention that as well. I was hoping to learn something interesting about the bird. Like where does it nest? Where can it mostly likely be found? Does it have any interesting habits that make it different or special? None of that is included here. This is strictly for identifying purposes and I guess you could look up the bird somewhere else to learn about it if you were interested.
- EXTREMELY COMPREHENSIVE. As I mentioned above this book is so comprehensive it is overwhelming for me as a casual backyard bird watcher. I did like the book and I'm happy that I read the diagrams in the beginning to learn a little more about how to identify a bird and the correct vocabulary to describe different parts of the bird. But, ultimately, I will be returning this book in favor of something more simple. I found another book that features birds local to my region and therefore is much smaller. It is also organized by the color of the bird, which (for me) is much more user friendly.
My recommendation is to seriously consider what you want this book for and how much you already know about birds. If you already have a basic knowledge about birds (will you know to go to the "starling"
"towhees" or "warblers" section to find the specific bird you want?) OR if you travel around North America a lot and want ONE book that can help to identify the birds you see during your travels, this would be a good book for you. But, if you are like me and are curious about the birds you see in your own backyard and don't know the names of more than one or two birds already, you might want to find something a little simpler and more user-friendly.
Top international reviews
The book has nearly 800 pages and is fairly heavy so i don't think it would be practical to take on a field trip.
It also comes with a cd containing more than 600 bird sounds