The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition is a beautiful guide as expected from all the other editions of this guide and all the works done by National Geographic.
The 6th edition adds 23 new species, updated classification according to the AOU checklist, and includes every bird species found in North America (which includes all the really rare ones!). The illustrations are beautiful and a balance of artistic value and identification assistance.
The 6th edition has a quick-find index which is on the inside covers and provides an overview of bird families and the pages they’re found. While the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition isn’t the perfect guide for identification, it is an excellent field guide and an attractive book to give to budding birders and long-time naturalists. Reprinted by arrangement with the National Geographic Society from the book Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th edition. From the author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes a novel about music, love, friendship, and freedom. Now in its fourth edition, the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is the ultimate birder's field guide. A bestseller with more than a quarter of a million copies sold, this completely revised and updated edition is the most authoritative, sought-after guide to birds of North America on the market - for birders of all levels. I can’t believe it’s been five years since the publication of the fifth edition of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America! The NatGeo guide follows the now-usual plan of illustrations on the right-hand page, with text and range map on the facing page.
A good amount of variation within species is illustrated, including sex, age, seasonal, and regional differences, as appropriate.
The identification information is extensive, but not exhaustive, as the authors focus on the most important characteristics.
All but a few introduced or rarely occurring birds have a range map, including many that did not in the fifth edition.
The extra detail on migration is very helpful, but it is the subspecies information that excites me the most. In most cases, if I were to say that the range maps are the best thing about a field guide, it would be a sign that I was struggling to find something good to say about it. National Geographic includes all the birds that have been recorded in North America north of Mexico – 990 in all.
An eight-page introduction describes the plan of the book, gives some tips for better birding, and presents diagrams illustrating the parts of a bird, among other things.
The only issue I have with this guide is not specific to this particular guide, but rather with field guides as a whole – slavery to taxonomic order.
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition is a great guide.
Disclosure: The item reviewed here was a complementary review copy provided by the publisher. I’d actually prefer a slightly smaller book that would be possible without the no longer helpful thumbtabs.
I’m from France, I’m very passionate by ornithology and I bought this guide because I wanna going to Central Park , NYC ! Plus , North America has a lot of Bio-climatic zones , many birds are coming fom both and tropical zones mostly during their migration steps , It would very fun ! Plus , North America has a lot of Bio-climatic zones , many birds are coming from both Boreal and Tropical zones mostly during their migration steps , it’s awesome ! They are a little bit smaller, which could make a difference if carrying it into the field. Consider choosing a field guide specific to your particular area (for example, choose a guide that is an eastern or western version, or one targeted to the birds in your state).
Pro Tip:  We strongly recommend a book that shows the range map right next to the description. A drawing, on the other hand, can be tailored in such a way that it highlights exactly the parts of the bird that you should be focusing on, making identification easier. Pro Tip: Some guides organize the birds by color, but we strongly recommend against these because they can be confusing and not intuitive. That being said, field guides we looked at that were written for the youngest children seemed to be organized by the bird’s color or habitat. This is an image of two pages from the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition.
The images are beautiful, high-quality drawings that have key field marks pointed out (via lines) and even described. The guide covers all of North America, so many more species are covered than anyone is likely to see in their particular area. While you’re out identifying birds, please consider collecting data to help scientists by participating in a citizen-science project like eBird.


BirdSleuth K-12 creates innovative resources that build science skills while inspiring young people to connect to local habitats, explore biodiversity, and engage in citizen-science projects. Both are well appreciated because the beauty will attract newer birders and the completeness of the art aids in identification.
Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Sturdy, portable, and easy-to-use, it features the most complete information available on every bird species known to North America. National Geographic has been meeting their need for clear and accurate information for 25 years with our million-selling Field Guide to the Birds of North America. The descriptions are largely the same as in the prior edition, but the voice and range sections have, on average, been expanded. The maps of 59 birds with multiple subspecies are marked to show the ranges of the constituent subspecies. Well, I have no shortage of good things to say about this edition of the National Geographic guide, and the range maps just may be the best thing about it. 92 of these are found in an illustrated list of accidental and extinct species at the end of the book. Most North American field guides follow the species order prescribed by the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) rather closely, at least to the level of family and genus. Dunne and Alderfer have done much more than incorporate the latest AOU updates, add a new species or two, and slightly change the cover. In my review of the fifth edition I qualified my recommendation, especially for owners of a prior edition. I also deplore these often slavic changes in sequence that not only don’t help in the field, but more often even complicate the matter. I hope that this guide will bring to me great informations about the magnificent species of North America ! This field guide should be very useful to you, and I hope you have a wonderful time birding here! For many birders, a lifetime hobby began with a field guide that helped them put a name to the bird they saw. A guide that covers a broader geographic range (such as the whole United States) will have many more species included within it, which can lead to confusion and might overwhelm your students. Some guides (especially older ones) have all the maps together in the back of the book, making it necessary to flip pages to confirm that the bird you think you are seeing is actually located where you are. While these can be a lot of fun to look through, it turns out that many birders prefer illustrated field guides and especially recommend them for beginners.
Beginners may also struggle to identify a bird using photos when the bird that they’re seeing in real life doesn’t look exactly like that species in the photo.
Most guides are arranged taxonomically, meaning that the birds are grouped according to their evolutionary relationships with one another. You could probably imagine how people might disagree on what color category to put the painted bunting (see photo) into… and we find it confusing to see the brown duck next to the brown sparrow. While we prefer the taxonomical organization, for a very young birder the accessibility of the language, the illustrations, and the amount of information included for each bird is also important.
Kids will have to really look at the range map to make sure they are identifying the bird correctly. Our Most Wanted Birds curriculum will help you and your students participate through fun and engaging activities designed to promote scientific inquiry and a passion for nature among your students. Bartolick Love the DK Smitthsonian Birds of North America (Eastern or Western vers.) for any age new to birding. Now, to better serve the expanding market, we’ve customized our field-guide format to offer unique coverage for birders east or west of the Rocky Mountains.
According to the New York Times, some authorities predict that by 2050 there will be more than 100 million—and the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America will be the essential reference for field identification and the cornerstone of any birder's library.
This venerable guide, first published in 1983, has long been considered one of this continent’s best field guides. So if you’re already familiar with this guide’s previous incarnations, you may want to first check out this list of changes from the 5th edition, and then skim ahead to the evaluation.
Additionally, the illustrations are annotated with field marks, a la the Sibley and Collins guides. Many non-passerines, such as shorebirds and gulls, have a voice description for the first time.
Many also continue well south into Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, showing much more of the bird’s entire range than most other field guides. And if this weren’t enough, there is a separate section in the back of the book with larger and even more detailed maps for 37 additional species. Along with a single illustration, details of the species’ occurrence and a brief description of appearance is included.


A “quick find index” on the inside-front cover flap lists birds’ “last name” in alphabetical order.
NatGeo6 is no exception, incorporating the latest changes from the AOU at the time of publication. The extra size they require doesn’t seem important, but it is a very big deal if that means it no longer fits in your pocket!
Here in France , we have absolutely wonderful birding bearings , and across the world , this incredibly passion should be shared through essentials and awesome field-guides such this one ! We think that a field guide can help turn curiosity into a lifelong passion, while the wrong field guide and approach might lead to frustration and disinterest.
The problem with photos is that it’s often nearly impossible to capture a real image of a bird that displays all of its characteristic features in an ideal way. Drawings allow for more variation between the real bird you’re looking at and the image in the field guide. Besides giving kids experience with this important topic, this is also useful in practice because closely related birds often look similar to one another. All this should be taken into consideration when making a decision about which field guide to use with our littlest birders. That said, “beginner” guides can be a good place to start your field guide search, especially with very young students.
But we think that older students and experienced birders will appreciate how thorough it is.
This is the ultimate, indispensable bird field guide—comprehensive, authoritative, portable, sturdy, and easier than ever to use. I love this feature, as it clearly draws attention to the most important characteristics to look for on a bird, and is a great use of space.
Distinct colors illustrate permanent, breeding, winter, and migration ranges, with dotted lines showing the extent of irregular occurrence. Additionally, a visual index to bird families is printed on the inside of the front and back covers. Most of these changes are to a species’ scientific name, which of course should be kept up-to-date in field guides.
This guide is clearly an improvement over the previous edition, even more so than the fifth was better than the fourth.
The thumbtabs are probably the most subjective feature of the guide – how you feel about them will likely be determined by how you use the guide. The one exception is the annotated arrows, the regional guides were the first NatGeo’s to include those.
How do you know which kind of bird guide to select, whether for a class full of potential birders or your child who loves birds? By having both in your guide, young students will get confused and need to pay close attention to range maps.
Even if it does, the amount of detail and complexity in an actual photo can be distracting and confusing at times. All of this is good, but it is two features unique among current North American field guides that make these maps stand out: distinct colors for spring, fall, and both-way migration, and subspecies names and boundaries. Many of the illustrations are updated or completely redone with each new edition, and those redone for this sixth edition are a clear improvement. If you want to check out a longspur, for example, you would no longer look after the sparrows (their usual place in field guides since before I’ve been birding), but before the warblers.
Durable covers stand up to outdoor use, with integrated quick-reference flaps that double as place-markers.Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America offers 750 regular species, 600 new range maps, 100 casual and accidental birds, and 55 rarities. More and more, I think field guides should stick to a standard sequence designed to help birders identify birds. There are still some plates that need work (like the vireos), but I suppose they have to leave something for the inevitable seventh edition!
Personally this new edition is not going to take the place of Sibley as my primary field guide. This guide includes more species, but the Sibley has more illustrations of each included species, and arrows pointing out the major field marks.
I would highly recommend this fifth edition to any North American birder who does not own a previous edition, or who uses a previous edition as their primary guide.



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