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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive or not, this visual guide is truly a joy to behold
Dorling Kindersley have become well known for producing clear, visually oriented reference books for adults and children. They had previously published a score of smaller volumes on the subject of birds, but nothing quite like this: a definitive guide, as they claim. The book is best described as an encyclopaedia of birds. Measuring 30 x 25 cm and weighing over 2kg, it...
Published on 4 Jun 2008 by Christopher J. Sharpe

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bird
With a title like this it is tempting to think "who are you trying to kid?", but in fact this is the latest in a whole series of well-illustrated DK books with ambitious titles such as "Earth", "Universe", "History", "Human" and of course the best-selling title "Animal - the definitive visual guide". Having been a contributing author on the bird section of the latter book...
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by Keith Betton


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive or not, this visual guide is truly a joy to behold, 4 Jun 2008
By 
Christopher J. Sharpe "Chris Sharpe" (Caracas, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide (Hardcover)
Dorling Kindersley have become well known for producing clear, visually oriented reference books for adults and children. They had previously published a score of smaller volumes on the subject of birds, but nothing quite like this: a definitive guide, as they claim. The book is best described as an encyclopaedia of birds. Measuring 30 x 25 cm and weighing over 2kg, it has the heft of an encyclopaedia and certainly isn't a field guide. At the same time it is an avian art gallery that exhibits some of the most exciting photographs of the world's most wonderful birds.

The book is split into three parts. The 44 page introduction discusses physiology, flight, behaviour, conservation and more. It is nicely concise, making use of numerous photographs and diagrams to explain what birds are. The second, 28-page section explores habitats in the same way. This leaves the lion's share - some 390 pages - for the systematic accounts, which cover all bird families and a selection of over 1,200 species. There is an introductory section for each taxonomic group - species are grouped by Order in the case of Non-passerines and Family for the Passerines. The majority of species are illustrated by a photograph in addition to range map with a short text on the salient features of the bird.

In the US edition (ISBN 075663153X - also available on Amazon), produced in collaboration with Audubon, a CD is included. Prepared by Cornell's Macauley Library of Natural Sounds, it is a delightful audio sample of vocalisations from 60 species from around the world.

This is just the sort of book that would have engrossed me for hours as a child. I remember spending many a happy evening poring over my Mitchell Beazley World Atlas of Birds, which would have been the nearest equivalent back then. Already my kids have spent more time looking through the book than I have! It's not too hard to imagine that this book, left idly on a coffee table, will persuade many a non-birding adult to pick up a pair of binoculars for the first time. In fact, it may just be the ideal book to explain to the fascination of birds to the uninitiated. I spend a lot of time watching birds in the wild and even I found myself gasping at some of the photographs. The double page spreads of a hunting Great Grey Owl, King Penguins under water, a Spotted Sandpiper chick hunkered down amongst leaf litter, Toco Toucan, Waxwings and Northern Cardinal were, for me, particular evocative.

This is a book I can heartily recommend to birders of all stripes - especially beginning birders, armchair travellers and anyone who likes to celebrate the beauty and diversity of birds. A sort of book equivalent of David Attenborough's "Life of Birds".

Chris Sharpe, 4 June 2008. ISBN: 1405306335
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive photographic guide, 20 Nov 2007
By 
Denise Bright "csi24babe" (Enfield, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have been waiting a very long time for a book like this to be published.
I have a passion for wildlife and, with mammal books a-plenty on the market, praised the day when I saw this book advertised.

As you would expect from DK/Audobon, the layout of this visual feast is excellent and is well-written. The photographs are breathtaking, including some fabulous double-page features. The audio CD contains 60 bird calls and songs from around the world (nearly an hour's worth) - fantastic!!

The only criticism I have is of the main publishers, Penguin. Only the US version has the audio CD of bird calls and songs, and I had to wait until Amazon had it for sale. Why should this be the case?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars birds, 8 Nov 2009
By 
geordie (taunton somerset uk) - See all my reviews
Best bird book i own . The book is really published in a very expert way. The photos. are outstanding. Perfect xmas gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bird, 6 Aug 2009
This review is from: Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide (Hardcover)
With a title like this it is tempting to think "who are you trying to kid?", but in fact this is the latest in a whole series of well-illustrated DK books with ambitious titles such as "Earth", "Universe", "History", "Human" and of course the best-selling title "Animal - the definitive visual guide". Having been a contributing author on the bird section of the latter book I was intrigued to see how DK handled the entire bird world in one volume.

Anyone who has bought a DK title before will know that they pack in masses of illustrations, with concise but useful facts backed up with short chapters on wider subjects. Everything is always very busy with fact boxes and tables, while photographs may be small or covering half a page or more, perhaps overlapping the text or completely cut out. Everything is incredibly busy-looking, but that is what many people want today - particularly those of school age.

With Birdlife International taking care of the species texts and the National Audubon Society being a consultant on the book's creation, there has clearly been plenty of input from "those in the know", which is always a welcome relief. Indeed a cast of eleven well-known birders wrote the various family chapters, and although I have some criticisms I think they did an admirable job.

The first 40 pages are used to describe a wide range of issues such as anatomy, flight, diet, behaviour, and breeding. Another 28 pages describe the many habitats that birds use. The next 400 pages are the main feature - a selection of the world's species in greater detail.

So how did they tackle fitting nearly 10,000 species into 510 pages? The book follows Howard and Moore's list, and then a sample of each of the 204 families are examined. Each selected species is given the same treatment: name, scientific name, length, weight, a comment on migratory habits, and a description of preferred habitat. A short text of 75-150 words follows with a tiny map measuring a meagre 24mm x 17mm (ie smaller than a postage stamp). Around 15% of known species are described, but surprisingly not all of these are illustrated.

Books like this are usually driven by the availability of photographs and the inclination is to give greater coverage to better-known families. Consequently non-passerines tend to dominate the species coverage even though they are well outnumbered by passerines in the real world. This book falls into this trap. Sixty percent of the space is allocated to the forty percent that are non-passerines.
Indeed, some of the biggest passerine families are crammed into a small area. So despite having 308 species worldwide (including American sparrows), the Bunting family is tucked into five pages with only 20 of them featured, while 11 of the 17 penguins are described in a chapter of the same size.

A number of great birdwatching sites, such as Kakadu and the Danube Delta have been inserted at various places within the species texts. These are useful, but would have been better placed at the front with the habitat descriptions.

This will be a popular book and there is no doubt that it will do well. In particular I think it is fabulous for kids. Compared to the literature I could get my hands on as a beginner it is light years ahead. If you are travelling to the USA it might pay to buy it over there as in North America it comes with a CD of 60 bird songs from around the world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Extensive, 14 April 2013
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This review is from: Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide (Hardcover)
Beautiful picture book with lots of information about birds from all over the world. I would have liked to have seen more images and less info, as I bought it primarily for inspiration for drawing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars best bird guide available, 26 Jan 2010
beautiful pictures and great journey discovering complete basic information about how birds fly, types of flight, food, habitats, nice addition of some famous national parks and many more
stands out from all birds books and guides i have found
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive or not, this visual guide is truly a joy to behold, 4 Jun 2008
By 
Christopher J. Sharpe "Chris Sharpe" (Caracas, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Dorling Kindersley have become well known for producing clear, visually oriented reference books for adults and children. They had previously published a score of smaller volumes on the subject of birds, but nothing quite like this: a definitive guide, as they claim. The book is best described as an encyclopaedia of birds. Measuring 30 x 25 cm and weighing over 2kg, it has the heft of an encyclopaedia and certainly isn't a field guide. At the same time it is an avian art gallery that exhibits some of the most exciting photographs of the world's most wonderful birds.

The book is split into three parts. The 44 page introduction discusses physiology, flight, behaviour, conservation and more. It is nicely concise, making use of numerous photographs and diagrams to explain what birds are. The second, 28-page section explores habitats in the same way. This leaves the lion's share - some 390 pages - for the systematic accounts, which cover all bird families and a selection of over 1,200 species. There is an introductory section for each taxonomic group - species are grouped by Order in the case of Non-passerines and Family for the Passerines. The majority of species are illustrated by a photograph in addition to range map with a short text on the salient features of the bird.

In the US edition (this one - ISBN 075663153X), produced in collaboration with Audubon, a CD is included. Prepared by Cornell's Macauley Library of Natural Sounds, it is a delightful audio sample of vocalisations from 60 species from around the world.

This is just the sort of book that would have engrossed me for hours as a child. I remember spending many a happy evening poring over my Mitchell Beazley World Atlas of Birds, which would have been the nearest equivalent back then. Already my kids have spent more time looking through the book than I have! It's not too hard to imagine that this book, left idly on a coffee table, will persuade many a non-birding adult to pick up a pair of binoculars for the first time. In fact, it may just be the ideal book to explain to the fascination of birds to the uninitiated. I spend a lot of time watching birds in the wild and even I found myself gasping at some of the photographs. The double page spreads of a hunting Great Grey Owl, King Penguins under water, a Spotted Sandpiper chick hunkered down amongst leaf litter, Toco Toucan, Waxwings and Northern Cardinal were, for me, particular evocative.

This is a book I can heartily recommend to birders of all stripes - especially beginning birders, armchair travellers and anyone who likes to celebrate the beauty and diversity of birds. A sort of book equivalent of David Attenborough's "Life of Birds".

Chris Sharpe, 4 June 2008. ISBN: 075663153X
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Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide
Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide by Birdlife International (Hardcover - 6 Sep 2007)
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