National Geographic Books
Oct 20, 2009
Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.4 x 1.7 inches
Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds
From the publisher: Rescaled and enlarged to 150 percent of original size, the guide’s 4,000-plus illustrations of North America’s 970 bird species enable readers to appreciate every brushstroke of the beautiful artwork. With 700 enlarged and updated range maps based on the latest science, the book also showcases the richly detailed work of National Geographic’s world-famous cartographers.
I initially received this book with some skepticism as I was assuming it was just an enlarged version of my current National Geographic fieldguide and, therefore, wouldn’t add anything to new to my library. I was pleasantly surprised when I set it down on the coffee table. By the way, at over 5 pounds, it’s definitely a reference book.
Firstly, my current edition of the field guide is obviously old as many new illustrations and species have been added since the 3rd edition. Killian Mullarney, David Beadle and David Quinn had added some gorgeous new plates, and lots of new vagrants have been given treatment and illustrations throughout the guide and also in the back. All beautifully painted.
But regardless of whether you own the most current version of the field guide (5th edition) and have seen all the artwork before, I was also pleased with the large-scale format. There really are a host of world-class illustrations in this guide and to be able to enjoy them at coffee table book size is a treat. Details can be seen without eyestrain and many of the plates are works of art that deserve the extra real estate. For example, the Empidonax plates must be some of the best painted out there and makes this folio edition an essential reference when doing your homework. Or just sit back on the couch and marvel at the artwork. Other plates that stand out for an honorable mention in this scaled up version include some of the gadfly petrels, Horned Lark subspecies and some of the more recent plates of shorebirds. If you’re an Attu or Gambel veteran, the old world passerines (thrushes, chats Brown Shrike etc) are sumptuously painted and worthy of taking a moment to admire the artist's skill.
All in all, this book is celebration of the art of this field guide that has been the staple for North American birders for decades.