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Birds of North America

Birds are beautiful creatures that come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colors.  Some birds have easily identifiable marks will others may be hard to identify because they don't seem to have anything that makes them stand out from other birds.  Put another way, "there are many birds that look very similar to each other" . One of the best ways to help you identify a particular bird while in the field is to have a reference book handy.  There are many good guide books available for Birds of North America.

The books on Birds of North America range in quality and price and there are many available.  Listed below are a few of the more popular ones to give you an idea of what's available.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

According to the New York Times, some authorities predict that by 2050 there will be more than 100 million birders in the U.S.  The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is a greatl reference for field identification and the cornerstone of any birder's library.  It is comprehensive, authoritative, portable (paperback), sturdy, and easier to use.

Among the the new edition's key elements and practical improvements:

  • Every North American species - more than 960, including a new section on accidental birds—classified according to the latest official American Ornithologists' Union checklist
  • 4,000 full-color illustrations by the foremost bird artists at work today
  • Newly updated range maps that draw on the latest data
  • New durable cover for added protection against adverse weather
  • Informative quick-reference flaps that double as place markers
  • New reader-friendly features like thumb tabs that make locating key sections faster
  • A quick-find index to direct users straight to the information they need.

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
by David Allen Sibley and Rick Cech

This book provides birders the convenience of portability.  This volume breaks down the information in The Sibley Guide to Birds into specific regions (The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America is also available).

The guide includes the parts of a bird and general color-coded maps.  It focuses much of its attention on birds who make their home east of the Rocky Mountains, such as the Double-crested Cormorant and the Eastern Screech-Owl.

The color-coded maps that accompany each bird show where the birds live throughout North America, so that birders in, say, Pennsylvania, will know to look for the Northern Mockingbird in California as well.  Also, Sibley's beautiful full-colored paintings of birds jump out at every page, even in small format.

Smithsonian Birds of North America (Hardcover)  

The life histories of more than 930 Species. A good reference for birders across North America. 

This comprehensive reference includes full-page profiles of more than 930 species - all the birds known to breed in the United States or Canada, as well as regular visitors and vagrants to the continent.  Smithsonian Birds of North America includes:

  • Essential identification tips on each species.
  • Fascinating information on feeding and behavior, breeding, and nesting habits.
  • Identification.
  • Full-page species profiles combine a precise description and annotated photographs to highlight the key field marks of the adult male.
  • Other plumages are portrayed with photographs or artworks if they differ significantly.
  • Species similar to the one profiled are shown with a brief summary of the key differences.
  • An explanation of the typical flight pattern of each species includes both schematic artworks and a verbal description.
  • Life histories. Knowledge of behavior can be critical to differentiate between similar species,
  • Each profile includes a description of the typical vocalizations, feeding behavior, breeding, nesting, population, and conservation concerns.
  • A range map shows each bird's occurrence in North America during summer, winter, and during migration.
  • More than 1000 full-color pages

The author, Frederick Joseph Alsop, III Ph.D. is an ornithologist and a professor of biological sciences at East Tennessee State University.  An avid field biologist and birder, he has identified more than 3,200 species of birds worldwide.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region

A bestselling photographic field guide that is a popular guide for over four million birders.   Almost every bird found in North America is brought to life in a full-color photograph and with textual information on the bird's voice, nesting habits, habitat, range, and interesting behaviors. Accompanying range maps; overhead flight silhouettes; sections on bird-watching, accidental species, and endangered birds make it a very comprehensive field guide.

It covers 508 bird species found east of the Rocky Mountains, the revised second edition takes into account changes in taxonomy and uses improved photography.  It includes 646 color photographs whose subjects are organized by discerned characteristics. The photographs are  keyed to textual descriptions of the birds' appearance, range and habitat, nesting characteristics, and behavior.  Well produced, a nice addition to a  birdwatcher's collection.

Note: The Eastern Edition generally covers states east of the Rocky Mountains, while the Western Edition covers the Rocky Mountain range and all the states to the west of it.

These books will whet your appetite for bird watching.  Buying a good bird guide book to the birds of North America is a great way to help you identify all the birds you’ll see around your home and on any bird watching trips that you might take.

If you’re interested in birds and bird watching then you should plan on acquiring a good  guide to the birds of North America.

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