Raising the Bar for Bird Guides

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Science  14 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5537, pp. 2002-2004
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061613

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Birds of North America. by Kenn Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2000. 384 pp. Paper, $20. ISBN 0-395-96464-4.

The Sibley Guide to Birds. by David Allen Sibley. Knopf, New York, 2000. 544 pp. Paper, $35, C$53. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.

North American Bird Guide. Pica (Helm Information), East Sussex, UK, 2000. 544 pp. Paper, £25. ISBN 1-873403-98-4.

Collins Bird Guide. by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterström, and Peter J. Grant. Harper Collins, London, 1999. 399 pp. £24.99. ISBN 0-00-219728-6. Large format, 2000. £29.99. ISBN 0-00-710082-5. Paper, 2001. £16.99. ISBN 0-00-711332-3.

Birds of Europe. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000. 400 pp. Paper, $29.95. ISBN 0-691-05054-6.

These three books advance the state-of-the-art in bird guides. Those new to birdwatching will find Kaufman's digitally edited photographs and concise text an efficient introduction to North American birds. Sibley's annotated, detailed paintings of flying and perched birds cover sexual, age, and geographic variation, and his book has been enthusiastically received by birders. Svensson et al. combine a comprehensive text on the field identification of European birds and superb artwork in what is the finest field guide to date for any regional avifauna.