Tuesday, September 12, 2000

'Guide' focuses on birds

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A new paperback guide, Focus Guide to the Birds of North America, uses digital enhancement to combine the best of photos and paintings to emphasize distinctive markings.

        The book, by birder and writer Kenn Kaufman (no relation), also is arranged in ways intended to make it more useful than some traditional guides.

        For instance, birds that swim together are illustrated together although they are otherwise unrelated.

        Common birds get more attention than rare birds and birds also are grouped in more traditional fashion, accompanied by maps showing where they fly.

        A bonus is the illustrated table of contents; if you've seen the bird, there's a good chance you can find it here.

        For most of us, another valuable feature is Mr. Kaufman's paragraph on “what to look for on an unfamiliar bird.”

        Mr. Kaufman says he hopes to minimize the frustration experienced by many beginners given expert guides to birds. His goal, he said, was to take advantage of new information and computer imaging to “to produce a guide that accomplishes what Roger Tory Peterson's did in 1934 — an accurate, complete, simple and concise book for the nature-oriented people of this content.”

        Happily, Birds of North America avoids parochialism and includes Mexico, the southernmost country on the continent.


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