Friday, January 25, 2008

The "Other" Field Guide to Birds

I am speaking, of course, of the National Wildlife Federation field guide to birds of North America, by Edward S. Brinkley. Published in May 2007 and touted on the back cover as “The most up-to-date all-photographic field guide,” this book seems to have been virtually ignored by bird (and virtually all other) bloggers. That is a shame, as I find it to be an incredibly well-designed and quite useful guide, much more so than other photo-based guides such as those by Ken Kaufmann and Don and Lillian Stokes. More than 750 species are illustrated with 2,100 full-color photographs (an average of nearly 3/species). Each photograph is enhanced with captions highlighting important field marks. Four-color range maps are provided for 600 species. In my opinion, this book should be a mandatory addition to every North American birder’s collection of field guides.


Blogger Patrick B. said...


I know a lot of VA birders who have a lot of respect for Ned Brinkley. I've seen this book in Borders and it looked pretty nice. It seems that it's been more or less ignored by everyone. We don't carry it at all in the NJ Audubon stores. The reason I haven't gotten it is because I'm in the "I already have too many US field guides." mode these days.

February 03, 2008 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is surprisingly good, and does deserve consideration.
I was planning on reviewing it on my website eventually, as soon as I can get through my backlog of reviews to write. I haven't taken the time to do a thorough comparison to the Kaufman guide yet, but will certainly do so. But it is very clear that Kaufman and the NWF guides are the best photo guides to NA at this point.
Your recommendation is right on - this guide does not deserve to be ignored.

February 03, 2008 3:11 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Patrick, Patrick, Patrick,

You can NEVER have "too many US field guides!"

February 03, 2008 5:28 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...


I appreciate your endorsement of my review of the NWF book, and I really love your "Birder's Library" Website.

February 03, 2008 5:32 PM  
Blogger cyberthrush said...

The volume is just a tad large and heavy for an easy-to-use, easy-to-carry "field" guide; I suspect that like the original Sibley Guide before it (which was even larger), NWF may need to put it out in separate "Eastern" and "Western" editions for more attention and sales.

February 03, 2008 9:05 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

I have the Kaufmann guide but I don't believe I've ever seen the guide you metioned. I will be on the lookout for it

February 03, 2008 10:18 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

True enough, ct, but it's just fine for throwing in the back seat of the car, which is where I suspect most birders carry their "field" guides when in the field.

February 04, 2008 7:41 AM  
Blogger Jeff Gyr said...

Hi John--

I'm solidly in the "can't have too many field guides," camp, though I am a little alarmed at the increasing numbers of quickie, throwaway offerings that are being churned out.

I agree that Ned's book is especially worthwhile--I recommend it highly.

It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds by Ted Floyd, which looks to be similar to Ned's book in broad detail, will be received when it is published this Spring. My guess is that it will be well worth having, too.

Then, in late summer, we'll have the "remixed" Peterson guide (a project in which I have some involvement) which will, of course, be based on paintings, not photos.

So it's shaping up to be quite an active year and a half or so for North American field guides.

Good birding,


February 07, 2008 8:52 AM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Thanks for the comments, Jeff. I wasn't aware of Ted Floyd's Smithsonian guide or the "remixed" Peterson guide (both forthcoming), but look forward to seeing them both.

February 07, 2008 9:23 AM  

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