Birds of North America and Greenland By Norman Arlott | 239 pages | 100 colour plates | colour distribution maps | Harper Collins | Hardcover | 2011 | ISBN-13: 9780007293346

What the Publisher Says:

A comprehensive illustrated field guide to the birds of North America and Greenland, ideal for the travelling birdwatcher. Covering most of North America, including Canada and Greenland, this guide focuses on the rich and diverse birdlife of what is known as the Nearctic region.

Every species found in the area is illustrated in every plumage in which they can be seen in the wild. The accompanying text concentrates on the specific characteristics and appearance of each species that allow identification in the field, including voice and distribution maps.

Wildlife artist Norman Arlott has illustrated nearly 100 books and his artwork regularly appears in magazines. He has designed special bird stamp issues for countries including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Seychelles, British Virgin Islands, Gambia, Malawi and Christmas Island. He has also led ornithology tours to East Africa.Fatbirder View

There is no doubt that the Collins Guide to the Birds of Europe was groundbreaking and remains the best bird book for Europe bar none. In fact many consider it the best fieldguide for anywhere and you can count me among that number. Of course the Collins canon contains a plethora of field guides covering almost the whole globe and are often my fieldguide of choice when off on my travels. This represents North America given the Collins Field Guide treatment – which means a set format of plates and text with distribution maps and a brief introductory chapter. This has one great advantage over its many, many rivals – portability. It is compact, light and pocket sized. It would fit the bill therefore, for a travelling birder intent on visiting a number of eastern and western US states and Canadian provinces or that tiny minority visiting Greenland.

However, that very portability is what most lets it down because the plates are pretty packed, the text concise (good) tiny (bad) and the distribution maps so small and so far to the right of the left hand page that at first I hadn’t noticed they were there.

Of course it has a great number of rivals, chief amongst them the Sibley guide unsurpassed for the US and Canada and, in my view, second only to Collins’ European Guide in the ‘best field guide in the world’ stakes. Even if I were travelling to Eastern and Western US I would pack the two Sibley guides split into orient and occident; they too are very portable and have what this guide has not, much more coverage of juveniles, both genders etc that make identification easier, including pointers to features of difficult to separate birds.

In short this is a good portable birding guide that will carve out a niche but not seriously challenge Sibley as the market leader.

One quibble – Mexico may be in a different avifaunal zone but it is part of North America!


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