Tuesday, November 6, 2018

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition
by Jon L. Dunn, Jonathan Alderfer
National Geographic Society: 9/12/17
review copy; 592 pages
ISBN-13: 9781426218354

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition, by Jon L. Dunn, Jonathan Alderfer is a very highly recommended fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide. It is perfect for those just beginning to use a field guide as well as advanced birders. The guide is organized to match the new 2016 American Ornithological Society taxonomy and nomenclature classification system. The 7th edition includes 37 new species for a total of 1,023 species; 16 new pages allow for 250 fresh illustrations; 80 new maps; and 350 map revisions.

National Geographic field guides are the most frequently updated guides around which makes them the most up-to-date guides available. All the art work included was carefully selected and updated where needed. I absolutely loved the detailed illustrations that are hand-painted and represent the most distinctive plumages likely to be encountered in the field. Although I have an irrational love of the photos in an unnamed field guide, I can fully support the much superior choice made by National Geographic guides to use illustrations that do a superior job to accurately depict the various birds for identification purposes.

There is a short quick-find index on the front cover fly-leaf and, with the cover flap open, a visual index of bird families. The visual index continues on the flap of the open back cover. You will find a short table of contents at the front and a complete index in the back. At the start of each family group is an introduction. The information on each bird includes the name and the scientific name; the description and distinctive marks are covered, including juvenile markings, winter plumage, differences between breeding plumage, and males and females; the voice, if pertinent, is described; and the range maps illustrate the range, with the range map symbols explained on the back cover flap. There is also an accidentals/extinct species section at the back.

Back to the illustrations, though, which are the stars, in my opinion, of the National Geographic guides. The left page on the guide is informational, including the range maps, and the right page features the illustrations. The illustrations show the most common identifiable markings of each bird and include the birds in flight whenever that would help with identification.

When my children were young, I always had a wide variety of field guides available for them to use, including birds, plants, trees, animals, etc. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America would be an excellent addition to any home with children, to help instill that love of birding, as well as for the seasoned birder. There is also a National Geographic Birding App  available (based on a previous edition of the field guide) that can help with identification (especially songs), that is a great companion to the updated 7th edition Field Guide. (Bonus: a great field guide doesn't require a charge to use it over long periods of time.)

Jon Dunn, a leading expert on North American birds, was the chief editor and consultant for the first five editions of the National Geographic Field Guides to the Birds of North America, and co-authored the sixth and seventh editions, which gives the guides a consistency. Jonathan Alderfer has been the art consultant and principal general consultant of the field guides since the third edition. He is a principal author and artist of all recent National Geographic birding books, and his name has been on the cover with Dunn’s as co-authors since the Fifth Edition. (I enjoyed watching a video of Alderfer illustrating harlequin ducks online.) 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this guide from
National Geographic Society for review purposes at TLC Book Tours