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Book Review: Bird Songs Bible, Edited by Les Beletsky

Reviewed by Tim Gallagher
Book Review: Bird Songs Bible, Edited by Les Beletsky review book

When I first received this product, I wasn’t sure whether it should be covered in the Book Reviews section or here in Birding Products. I finally decided on the latter because, in many ways, Bird Songs Bible is far more than a book. Each copy has a built-in digital audio player loaded with the sounds of more than 700 species of birds.

This was the most popular feature with my 10-year-old daughter, who delighted in looking up the numbers of her favorite species and punching them into the player to hear their songs. And I liked it, too. All of the bird-sound recordings came from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the sound reproduction quality was surprisingly good for a device of this kind.

In addition to being an excellent collection of bird-sound recordings, Bird Songs Bible is a useful reference guide, covering all of the breeding birds of the United States (including Hawaii) and Canada. Each species account includes a color illustration of the bird, a description, a range map, and in-depth information about the bird’s distribution, habitat, behavior, and vocalizations.

The artwork is spectacular and was painted by some of the world’s leading wildlife artists, such as Jon Janosik, Mike Langman, Jonathan Latimer, David Nurney, Diane Pierce, H. Douglas Pratt, and John Sill.

Bird Songs Bible was edited by wildlife biologist and nature writer Les Beletsky. It is the latest in a series of birdsong guides published by Chronicle Books, which includes Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song, also by Les Beletsky; The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Eastern North America; and The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America, the latter two by Don Kroodsma. All of these books include an audio player with bird recordings from the Macaulay Library.

Although Bird Songs Bible comes with its own carrying case with a handle, it is really much too large for most people to carry with them to use as a field guide. (It weighs in at more than 10 pounds and measures 14” x 15” x 3/4”). But as a home reference guide to birds and their songs, it is excellent.

I have enjoyed sitting at the dining room table with my youngest daughter and poring over the beautiful color paintings of birds, many of which she has not seen yet (and now definitely wants to see).

Suggested retail price: $125.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library

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