Field Guide to the Birds of North America, edited by Shirley L. Scott
(National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., 1983; $13.95), covers
nearly the same birds as the Golden guide. But the 464-page guide is
larger in format and about 100 pages thicker, making it bulkier to pack
Illustrations are larger, and the additional text often compares
the bird under study with similar species. Reproduction quality is
better here than in the Golden guide.
Instead of sonagrams, this field guide uses description and
onomatopoeic words to describe songs and calls. This technique is
accurate and probably more useful to most people than sonagrams. For
example, “Northern flicker calls include a rapid wik-wik-wik-wik
and wick-er-wick-er-wick-er and a single, loud klee-yer.”
Though experienced birders generally consider it the best of the
new field guides, some beginners think it’s too complicated.
You can mail-order a copy from the National Geographic Society,
Washington, D.C. 20036, for $16.95 postpaid. If you want a set called
“Wonder of Birds,” which includes the guide, a migration map,
bird song records, and a general monograph, send $33.70.