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July 3, 2011 / Leslie

Review: Guide to the Backyard Birds

Backyard Birds of North America
by Jonathan Alderfer and Paul Hess

Genre: Nature, Reference
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publish Date: March, 2011
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

Serious birders have multiple field guides scattered around their house and in the car. Most of these types of field guides are too comprehensive for the casual bird watcher who just wants to know what kind of bird is at their feeder or singing that lovely song.

The guide I use the most is my National Geographic guide, so I’m a little partial to their newest version which is aimed at the backyard bird watcher. It focuses on the 150 most common species that one is likely to encounter in the yard or local park.

It’s nicely organized with plenty of illustrations and range maps, a description of the bird’s plumage, voice and nest type in a user friendly format. There is also a visual and color index to aid in initial identification of new birds. The first 50 pages of the book covers backyard basics: tips on identifying birds, what to feed them, placement of birdbaths and nestboxes, and types of plants/landscaping are recommeded to create a birding habitat. Interesting articles about bird behavior are included in the guide section with topics such as, “Why Do Birds Migrate”, “Feeder Pecking Order” and “How Do Birds Stay Warm”.

This is an excellent guide for the new or casual bird watcher. It does a nice job of highlighting most, but not all, of the birds you can find in your backyard or neighborhood park.



Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Jul 3 2011 8:00 am

    I bet the pictures in that book aren’t any better than the ones you take!


    • Leslie / Jul 3 2011 9:54 am

      Thanks! The pictures in the book are nice because they show the males, female and juvenile next to each other making identification easier.


  2. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Jul 3 2011 7:29 pm

    This seems like a great book for me. I once borrowed a great book from the library that had wonderful photos of birds of North America and also played the sound each of them made.


    • Leslie / Jul 3 2011 8:37 pm

      Sound would be very helpful. Some of the people that go on my bird walks have an iPhone app that plays a bird’s song. Very cool.


  3. Suko / Jul 4 2011 1:19 am

    One of these days, I expect to see a book of bird photographs by you, Leslie. 🙂


  4. Carol / Jul 8 2011 2:10 pm

    This sounds like a perfect book for us. My daughter has really been into birds lately.


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