National Geographic Birding Essentials: All the Tools, Techniques, and Tips You Need to Begin and Become a Better Birder

by Jonathan Alderfer

Paperback, 2007



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Library's review

Birding is the fastest growing wildlife-related outdoor activity in the U.S., with at least a million new birders a year estimated to join an already robust group some 80 million strong. For these beginning and intermediate enthusiasts, National Geographic Birding Essentials is a must.


National Geographic (2007), Edition: National Geographic, 224 pages


Birding is the fastest growing wildlife-related outdoor activity in the U.S., with at least a million new birders a year estimated to join an already robust group some 80 million strong. For these beginning and intermediate enthusiasts, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BIRDING ESSENTIALS is a must. Comprehensive and authoritative, yet engaging and user-friendly, it teaches readers how to begin and improve their birding... what to look and listen for... and how to make sense of what they see and hear. A unique visual component shows actual field guide pages and how to read them, while another compares the same bird in photography versus artwork and explains how to use both for species identification. National Geographic's quality photography is a major highlight of the book, supplemented by pencil drawings and full-color maps to give the novice and intermediate birder a full range of visual information.Field Ornithologists Jonathan Alderfer and Jon Dunn have crafted a masterful guide, striking just the right balance of practical information and reader-friendly tone. Chapters discuss the pleasures of birding, equipment needed, how to read range maps, birds' physical features, how to identify birds, identification challenges, bird classification and suggested books and journals for building a fine birding library.National Geographic has established a stellar reputation among birders with our blockbuster FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. The tradition continues as we serve an entry-level market that continually needs the helpful, up-to-the-minute information found in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BIRDING ESSENTIALS.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jnavia
On the bird walks, there were many things I heard from other birders that I didn’t understand. And I couldn’t fathom how birders, no matter how experienced, could look up at a bird and quickly declare its species name.When I saw the beautifully illustrated book, National Geographic Birding Essentials, on the to-be-cataloged cart at the library, I flipped through it, and knew I needed to buy a copy. The writers have put together a comprehensive guide for the beginner-to-intermediate birder. They explain basics such as how to buy a pair of binoculars and use them effectively, and what information one can get (and can’t get) from field guides (of course using as a sample the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America that they themselves edited). Distribution and range maps are explained as is the question we beginning birders often wonder: why are the species in field guides arranged the way they are?

Chapter 4 is devoted to the parts of a bird. Probably every part that could exist on any bird is discussed in detail – crowns, beaks, wings, flank, vent bands, scapulars, primaries, chins, carpal bars, tertial steps, everything. Chapter 5 talks about how to identify birds and gives examples of specific things to look for—eye rings, face masks, tail lengths and more. Chapter 6 discusses variation in birds. Females and males sometimes look similar, but in some species the differences are striking. Juveniles sometimes look very different from adults. Chapter 7 discusses the authors’ twelve hardest species to identify. Fieldcraft, the actual how-tos of birding, is described in Chapter 8. From obvious advice about listening for birds to the more peculiar practices of phishing and listing, it’s all here. Birding hot spots, annual surveys, magazines and journals are discussed. Scopes, digiscoping, GPS units, listing software and other tools are mentioned. The last chapter is on taxonomy and nomenclature. A two-page glossary and a one-page bibliography, including websites, are included.

The only birding essential that is not discussed in detailare the specific differences between all the popular field guides, but it is understandable that the authors only discuss their own.
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LibraryThing member VivienneR
All the advice a beginner needs to start birding. Covers topics from equipment to identification tips. It is specifically aimed at American readers.


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224 p.; 5.99 inches


1426201354 / 9781426201356
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