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Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – 14 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 6 edition (14 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547152469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547152462
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

With all-new range maps, updated text, and 40 new paintings, the completely revised editions of two classic Peterson Field Guides are sure to be valuable additions to any birder's pocket or daypack. At a trim size of 5 x 8, they are portable but also beautifully illustrated. Photographs, while modern looking and colorful, capture just one moment in time. The paintings in these guides, however, show all of a bird's key field marks and use the Peterson Identification System to make bird identification easier for beginning and intermediate bird watchers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fritz on 19 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First off I own not only a Peterson but the Sibley and Nat Geo guides to North America, and have to say that all three combined gives a solid base to work from. The Sibley has little or no text, but in my opion the best plates and the opposite of that could be said of the Nat Geo field guide, the Peterson is like a mix of the two. The thing about these three is they have very different styles and so attract there own set of fans, but truth be told anyone of these three including the Peterson will do the job, my advice don't be tight and buy all three (only joking) look through all three before buying and pick the one best suited to you. I for one really like the Peterson but use Sibleys guide more and use the other two (Nat Geo and Peterson) to confirm things when I get a tricky ID problem.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris on 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A well written, easy to use, field guide
Peterson Field Guides use 'pointers' on the identification pictures to help with distinguishing features.
Practical binding and sensible pocket size for field use.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 202 reviews
154 of 167 people found the following review helpful
Still a great guide, but losing ground 26 July 2010
By Donald Morgan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wish I could agree with the glowing reviews given by others, but I can't, at least in some respects. I grew up with the original Peterson field guide, and it was my parents' bible. The revisions over the years greatly enhanced the original material. I doubt there is a "seasoned" birder out there who would not say that the Peterson guides are responsible to a great extent for their love of birding.
As soon as They were available I signed up for the pre-order of both the eastern and western editions. I have had them now for around 5 months, and they have never left the house. I can only really comment on the eastern edition, because I never had a previous western ed., but I assume this applies to both.
The book's content is at least 95% the same as the previous edition. I have spotted an added picture or two, but not many. Colors have been changed slightly, but I am not sure that they are better, and it may just be the printing process. The text is updated to agree with current information, bird names, etc., but I haven't noticed much else. In that the pictures and information in the guides has always been excellent, all well and good.
The complaint I have is that the book is just no longer a FIELD GUIDE to me, as past editions were. It is thicker, somewhat heavier, and for a very poor reason, in my estimation. The difference is primarily in the back section of range maps, which has almost doubled in size. It takes up roughly 1/4 of the total size of the book. Now, we all refer to a range map from time to time, but I would bet its something like 1 in 300 times we use the book. Beyond that, the regular pages have smaller maps for the birds which suffice very well at least 95% of the time. To waste all that space and weight is ridiculous. If it is necessary to include all those large maps, I suggest they should be published separately and packaged with the guides, letting the user decide whether or not to carry them. I'm betting not 1/10 of 1% would. The old guide slid nicely into a pocket of my field pants. I won't be doing that with the new one, I'd be afraid it would rip the pocket out, if I could get it in at all. The newest National Geo. guides are top notch, and they are smaller, thinner, and lighter than Peterson, as are others. The "big Sibley" has become the bible for most birders, although mine will never leave the house or car because of size, so that leaves out the new Peterson from any primarly use other than possibly the "bird feeder birder". My feeling is, the people at Peterson "just don't get it" as far as their niche in the guide book business goes. I feel guilty for being a detractor of this "new standard", but I would feel more guilty if I did not.
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Peterson is still the best for bird ID! 9 Aug. 2010
By Doug Phillips - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sure there is lots more competition from other bird books now; but for ID of birds Peterson is still the best! The use of "points of emphasis" drawings to distinguish what makes a species different is still the best technique and biggest help - even for experienced birders (and I fit this category knowing warblers by their song). Do not go with books that use photographs whatever you do - birds just do not look like the photo in real life; as there is significant variation by bird. But a few characteristics are prominent on all birds of the same species - thus, Peterson drawings emphasizing these prominent points are the most helpful approach. Also, do not try to make a reference book with more info into a "field guide" for ID - too much info is bulky and confusing and harder to reference "in the field". RTP is still King and his legacy lives on...
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Better Still! 18 July 2010
By H. Moro - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was initially reluctant to buy the first edition of the namesake guide that R. T. Peterson (who died in 1996) was not at all involved in producing, but I was needlessly concerned. This new guide incrementally improves on its previous (5th) edition, incorporating a cleaner layout, updated range maps, and the revised taxonomy of the latest supplements to the AOU checklist. The original plates, similarly, have been dealt a subtle hand; overall, I feel they've never looked better!

If I had any criticism to level at this new edition, it's that the the text is often spare. Terminology and useful explanations of plumage features in the 5th edition that would confuse or overwhelm only the newest birdwatcher has often been omitted entirely. Understandably, this guide has long been a favorite of beginners, but I resent "dumbing down" of one of the few references one is likely to carry into the field. (If nothing else, it means a beginner is likely to outgrow this guide sooner than he or she ought to.) Finally, was the publisher unable to find a better picture of Mr. Peterson than the one they used for the back cover? Yikes!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Best Bird Book 27 Jan. 2012
By spotsandstripes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have or have had, most all of the North American Bird Field Guides available and still I keep coming back to the Peterson for several reasons. First is the quality of the artwork. The birds look much more natural and the colors are way more accurate than in either Sibley or National Geographic. I don't like the flat 2-D presentations in either of those guides. And, personally, I just do not like the photographic guides as lighting, etc. can play tricks and make the birds look different than they really are. If I want the challenge of identifying badly lit birds then I go to the Crossley which really isn't a field guide but a great book to learn from. The Peterson is the only book with thumbnail maps for a quick peek in the field, to rule a species in or out, as well as large detailed maps in the back for close examination if necessary. I find myself going to the rear maps very frequently as I travel looking for where birds are. The notes that accompany each species are a wealth of information, not just a rehash of the features that are visualized in the picture. Sibley and Nat Geo both have more extensive entries for Gulls and Hawks and I do refer to them if I am at the coast or wanting to know about a western species, however, the Peterson is still overall the best for eastern birding in my opinion. The front matter and various learning pages sprinkled throughout the book are great for beginning birders. This particular edition is really nice because it isn't so huge that lugging it into the field is a chore. Also, many species vary from coast to coast and with this guide you are sure that you are seeing the eastern version of the bird - think Fox Sparrow. All and all the best bird book for beginner through advanced birder.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One of the Top 2 Field Guides for Birders 20 May 2013
By B. McEwan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this to use in a beginning birder class that I took at the Audubon Society. Although I had some experience birding, it had been many years since I was engaged in this activity so I knew I would need an up-to-date reference. I went to the Peterson because that has been the #1 guide for years. Now that I have been using it for several weeks and have taken a couple of big birding excursions, I feel I can give it a fair review.

I should say that Peterson's is no longer the single 'go-to' bird guide. Since I was last active in birding, the Sibley's guide has come along, and many birders seem to prefer it. I was able to borrow a Sibley and test it in the field and, based upon that, here is my comparison of the two big contenders for best bird book.

First, and most important, both books use drawings of birds rather than photographs. This is important because with photos the light and the characteristics of the individual bird photographed can vary rather widely. This can make it difficult to identify a bird that you may be looking at.

Second, also important, both books have accurate text and provide a good overview of each bird species in a given geographic area. Each is appropriately sourced and has good general information on what to look for in the field, including such things are the shape of a bird, color of the bill and feet, flight patterns,etc. They are similarly organized, according to the standard biological classification of bird orders.

So, the differences between Peterson's and Sibley's lie mostly in the books' layout and size, as follows:

Range maps:

This is a point of major divergence, as Peterson's puts the range maps in the back of the book, separate from the illustrations of each bird. Granted, it has a small thumbnail of each range map next to the bird picture, but I find these too small to be of much use. This can be a hassle, since you have to flip back and forth between a bird's descriptions/drawing and that bird's range map.

Sibley's put range maps on the same page with the bird description, so flipping back and forth isn't necessary. However, this means that the maps, while larger than the thumbnails on the bird pages in Peterson's, are not as large as the maps that appear in the back of the Peterson book. So there is a choice point each birder must make between the size of the range map and the convenience of accessing it.


The other issue is one of size. Peterson's seems to me to be slightly larger and heavier than Sibley's. This can make a difference if you are carrying the book into the field, which is what it is designed for. Why have a field guide that you don't want to tote around in the field? And some people complain that the Peterson's is just wide enough not to fit into the pocket of a pair of cargo pants.

On the other hand, the difference is slight and may not matter to some people one way or the other.

Price and Inclusiveness:

As of today on Amazon, Peterson's is about $7.00 less than Sibley's, AND it includes birds from both Eastern and Central North America, whereas the comparable Sibley's includes birds from only the Eastern part of North America.

It is possible that Sibley's has as many birds as the Peterson's. (I didn't actually count, so this issue may just be one of labeling.) But if Peterson's includes some birds from the Central region that Sibley's does not, that would account for its slightly larger size and weight. And it is also cheaper, at least today on amazon.

So, while there are differences, when all is said and done, whether you go with this Peterson's or with the rival Sibley's is mostly a matter of personal preference.
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