My copy came in the mail today.  On the cover, the background color is
changed from white to black, words changed on the "seal" to "fully revised &
updated with 800 Range Maps and Quick-Find index for the field."  Added is
the news that there is an introduction by Dr. John W. Fitzpatrick, Director
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

So right there, I stop myself and get out the easy way.  I wrote Joe Morlan
and asked him if I could send you his report.  He said, no problem; thanks
for writing.

So here it is:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 16:34:24 -0800
From: Joseph Morlan <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BIRDCHAT] National Geographic 4th edition

Today I received my copy of the 4th edition of the National Geographic
Field Guide to the Birds of North America.  Here are my impressions on
a very quick review.

There is no change in the page numbering.  The advertising flyers
suggested that the book had been reorganized.  It hasn't; it's
basically the same book.

There is no change in the boldface headings within the text.  The
advertising flyers displayed text lacking these headings.  I think the
highlighted headings make it easier to find information in the text
and am pleased this feature has been retained.

There are only seven new plates, all significantly improved.  However
at least one of these plates (godwits) was included with the last
printing of the 3rd edition and in some recent foreign language
editions.  I don't know if any of the other new plates have been
published elsewhere.  The new plates are opposite pages: 36, 54, 56,
168, 230, 298, 382.

I felt that many of the plates in the 4th edition were rendered more
sharply and with better color.  E.g. the junco plate seems to have the
colors changed slightly and the images are crisper.  I'm not sure how
much of this was intentional and how much was an artifact of the

A few other plates have been retouched or slightly modified.  The
immature Northern Harrier has been retouched so it now looks a
different, more yellowish-clay color and the streaks on the chest have
been reduced.  The result still looks very little like a Northern
Harrier and this plate remains a disappointment.

Gunnison Sage-Grouse has been added opposite page 138, however, I
believe this was also done in late printings of the 3rd edition.
Names have been updated including Eared Quetzal and Wilson's Snipe,
but the scientific name of Wilson's Snipe is incorrect.

A one-page quick-find index has been added to the back of the index
section.  Space was made by reducing the font size for the rest of the
index, so the new quick index appears on page 476 which was the last
index page in the 3rd edition.  Unfortunately there are still four
pages of credits and acknowledgements following, so it's not easy to
get at the quick-find index all that quickly.  I think it should have
been placed on the inside back cover which still offers advertising
for three other somewhat related books.

I know the many of the maps have been redone but I have not made a
full comparison.  I noticed the Glaucous Gull is no longer wintering
out in the middle of Hudson Bay.  The color scheme and most of the map
outlines are identical.

The third edition says on its cover "Completely Revised & Updated with
80 new species."  The fourth says "Fully revised & Updated with 800
Range Maps and Quick-Find index for the Field."  Clearly the third
edition was a major revision while the fourth is not.

I've been teaching birding classes using this book as the main text
since the first edition and the new fourth edition is a pleasant
improvement which I will continue to adopt for my classes.

Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044: mailto:[log in to unmask]
Fall Birding Classes start Sept 4:
California Bird Records Committee:

end of forwarded message.

There was some follow up correspondence on BirdChat  to the effect that the
Latin name for  both Wilson's Snipe and Common Snipe erroneously remain the
same, Gallinago gallinago.  Also  I found Godwit is not included in the
quick-find index (we had a Hudsonian recently at Tallahassee and I wanted to
check that one especially).

Barbara Passmore
Valdosta GA

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