Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

4.4 12
by Ted Floyd

This new field guide provides a suite of modern tools to effectively aid in the identification of more than 750 species of birds across North America. It introduces a "whole bird" approach by concisely gathering a collection of information about birds into one portable and well-organized volume.

  • 2,000 stunning color photographs of birds in natural

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This new field guide provides a suite of modern tools to effectively aid in the identification of more than 750 species of birds across North America. It introduces a "whole bird" approach by concisely gathering a collection of information about birds into one portable and well-organized volume.

  • 2,000 stunning color photographs of birds in natural habitats show the most important field marks, regional population differences, life stages, and behaviors
  • 700-plus detailed and up-to-date color range maps show summer, migration, winter, year-round, and rare but regular occurrences of every major species
  • A DVD of birdsongs for 138 major species (587 vocalizations in all for 5½ hours of play); each high-quality MP3 file is embedded with an image of the bird, perfect to view on home computers and portable MP3 players
  • Concise descriptions of habits and ecology, age-related and seasonal differences, regional forms, vocalization, and informative captions pointing out the most important aspects of the bird
  • 46 group essays with information outlining taxonomy, feeding, migration, habitats, behaviors, and conservation status
  • A thorough and accessible introduction to birds and birding includes sections on parts of a bird, plumage and molt, food and feeding, migration, habitats, conservation, tips on bow to become a better birder, and more
  • A detailed glossary of terms, species checklist, and quick index

The new Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America is perfectly designed to give birders the most powerful and user-friendly collection of information to carry into the field or wherever they enjoy learning about birds and nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

This new Smithsonian field guide, written by Birding magazine editor Floyd, is ideal for beginners, but also has formidable resources for experienced birders. What gives this guide the most value is the included CD-ROM, with 587 songs and calls (for 138 bird species) in mp3 format. Not only are they an immense improvement on written descriptions (frequently incomprehensible), they're field-ready-just download them onto your favorite mp3 player. The text is generally thorough, but the focus is on images; each bird's entry is accompanied by at least two photographs and often more, showing specimens in flight, variations in coloring, and differences among males, females and juveniles. Compared with similar guides from National Geographic, Floyd's has considerably less textual description, helpful in identifying rarer birds and hybrids, but the strikingly crisp photography compensates. Appropriate for even elementary-age readers, the book's excellent range maps are very clear, and the introduction to each group is readable and highly informative. Clean design, sharp (not heavy) print and moisture-resistant materials make it perfect for field use. Birders of any experience level will be happy with this volume on their bookshelf.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal

This complete guide to American birds by the editor of Birding magazine has 2000 color photographs, hundreds of range maps, and many other useful features, including a DVD disc of five and a half hours of downloadable songs, totaling 587 from 138 species. As with most recent guides, the text is terse and minimal although full of literate nuggets, many not found in other books. For each bird, Floyd offers a paragraph of commentary, several photographs, a tiny but accurate range map, short descriptions of vocalizations, and some rather out-of-place (in a popular title) technical descriptions of plumage and molt. A full page or more is devoted to variable species such as the red-tailed hawk, given two pages and 11 photographs. The recordings are selective, e.g., showcasing eight of 51 warblers and nine of 31 sparrows. The photos are excellent, but many birders prefer paintings, which more easily distill the gestalt of species in all their variety. Top guides with paintings include American Bird Conservancy's All the Birds of North America, National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Peterson Field Guide to Birds, and The Sibley Guide to Birds. Among quality recent photographic guides are Edward Brinkley's National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America, Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, and Stokes Field Guide to Birds. Most consider Sibley and National Geographic the best, in that order, in any medium. A very fine guide, but, then, so are several others. Nevertheless, highly recommended.
—Henry T. Armistead

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Book and CD
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Chapter One


Whistling-Ducks, Geese & Swans, and Ducks

Order Anseriformes

Waterfowl—the familiar ducks, geese, and swans—are widespread and well represented in North America. All species are affiliated with aquatic habitats during some or all of their life cycle, and most are legally hunted across large swaths of the continent. Waterfowl classification is in a state of flux, with three subfamilies currently recognized as occurring in North America: the goose-like whistling-ducks (Dendrocygninae) of the southern states; the large-bodied geese and swans (Anserinae) of chiefly northern climes; and the widespread and remarkably diverse ducks (Anatinae).

Favored habitats for waterfowl are sprawling wetland complexes both in coastal districts and inland. Every high-quality marsh in the northern Midwest, it seems, harbors a dozen or more species of breeding ducks. Twenty or more species of waterfowl are easily found in a day afield in fall or winter along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. But it would not be accurate to say that waterfowl are habitat generalists, indiscriminately accepting any aquatic habitat. On the contrary, knowledge of microhabitat preferences plays an important role in identifying waterfowl.

The breeding biology of waterfowl is more easily observed than in most other birds. Courting is conspicuous, and the precocial young are frequently seen paddling furiously behind dutiful parents—hens only, in most species. Nesting always takes place in the general vicinity of water, but actual nest placement is often insurprisingly non-aquatic microhabitats: Gadwalls out in sagebrush flats, Canada Geese atop tall office buildings, Common Mergansers in caves on sheer cliffs. Most waterfowl species are intermediate-distance migrants, and a few can legitimately be classed as long-distance migrants. Migration is typically by day, and passages along the coast can be spectacular. Daily movements of species wintering along the coast are likewise impressive.

Waterfowl population health has been well studied for two reasons: first, wildlife agencies carefully monitor populations that are legally hunted; second, waterfowl are high-fidelity indicators of wetland quality, and their numbers provide an important baseline for conservation action. Some species—particularly in the subfamily Anserinae (geese and swans)—are enjoying sustained population growth, but many duck species are worrisomely declining, notably the American Black Duck and King Eider. The overarching threat to waterfowl populations is habitat loss. Bioaccumulation of toxins such as selenium is a local threat, and climate change may eventually prove to be a serious challenge for species with substantial arctic-breeding populations.

Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Copyright © by Ted Floyd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Ted Floyd is the editor of Birding, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association. He has published widely on birds and ecological topics, and he is an instructor with the American Birding Association's Institute for Field Ornithology program. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and other birding events, and he has led birding trips and workshops throughout North America. He has lived and birded in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, and Nevada. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife Kei, daughter Hannah, and son Andrew.

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