Inside The Covers

Book Review - North American Songbirds - a mini-review

Songbirds

 

By Noble Proctor
Cool Springs Press

A key concept of this new book is to allow the user to scan a QR code to hear the song of a particular species.  The book includes images, general descriptions and range maps for 100 songbirds of the United States.

QR Codes and Song Quality
The QR codes were easy to scan with my iPhone and the songs played quickly after the scan was complete.  The quality of the songs was adequate but not great.  Many songs had significant background sounds while several suffered from a background hiss.  The use of noise removal software would have improved the quality of the songs.  Two high-pitched songs, those of the Cedar Waxwing and Blackpoll Warbler, came through pretty well but did suffer from the background hiss.

Introduction
The opening chapter of the book contains a nicely written introduction to where, when and  why birds sing. 

Species Profiles
Each of the 100 species includes an illustration, descriptive information and a range map, in addition to the QR code.  The illustrations are adequate for the purpose of this book.  The general information on each species is often fun and enlightening. 

Each profile includes an At-A-Glance section which includes a description of the bird's song as well as information on Behavior, Habitat, Nest, and Food preferences.

My Opinions
The cover of the book provides a very nice first impression.  Some of the items inside the covers, however, were a little disappointing. 

One of the first images I looked at, on page 6, was incorrectly labeled. 

One species included in the book, the Plain Titmouse, was split into two separate species several years ago.  The two species, Oak and Juniper Titmouse, are nearly identically in appearance but have different songs.  Kind of a problem for a book that's key feature is bird songs.

You will like this book if…

- You will enjoy reading the often interesting information provided for each species.
- You will enjoy scanning the QR codes and listening to the bird songs.  Perhaps more fun and engaging when working with children.
- You just enjoy reading and learning about birds in general

This book is not for you if…
- You are tying to learn the songs of birds, there are many better options available.
- Looking for a field guide.  The illustrations are not complete enough to be used as a field guide.

I am not really a fan of using a QR code to hear a bird's song but others may have a different opinion.   The value of the book may lie in the descriptive information for each species - an often fun and easy  read.  A little more editing would have greatly improved the final product.

 

Sam Crowe