Birds have often held a special fascination for humanity. Venerated as deities and powerful symbols in the mythology of ancient Egypt, China, the Maya, and other cultures, through the millennia birds have remained mysterious, magnetic, and irresistible. In the 18th and 19th centuries, naturalists traveled the earth in search of the most resplendent avian species, and the advent of science has only increased interest in the amazingly varied world of birds. Today this fascination continues in the modern activity of birding, a passionate and well organized pursuit for people around the world.
Birding is a pastime that enriches and challenges hobbyists on multiple levels. Going beyond basic bird identification, birding includes a far-reaching look into matters such as bird behavior, migration, habitats, conservation, and the science behind them. Ultimately, birding offers the opportunity to participate in the systematic study of birds, and to help science advance its understanding of them. As such, birding involves direct contact with one of our primary treasures of wildlife, and some of the most beautiful of all living creatures.
Now, The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America, taught by internationally respected birding expert James Currie, takes you deeply into this compelling, delightful, and multifaceted field, focusing on the astounding wealth of bird species found in North America.
Among the world’s top birding territories, North America–encompassing the United States, Canada, and Mexico–holds a special place. With its rich geographical diversity and wide range of wildlife habitats, North America is a paradise of bird species, and an inexhaustible field of interest for birders from around the globe. From iconic species such as the soaring California Condor, the fiery-pink American flamingo, and the magnificent frigatebird to the raptors, wading birds, forest and desert dwellers, seabirds, and the melodious songbirds that populate our own neighborhoods, North America offers one of the most outstanding spectrums of bird species in the world.
Discover the Remarkable Lives and Incredible Diversity of Birds
The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America introduces you to the joys of birding and bird identification in 24 engaging and richly enjoyable lectures, which cover the field in comprehensive detail. Across the span of the course, you’ll explore important components of birding, such as
- the essentials of bird anatomy and taxonomy, and how this knowledge helps you critically in the field;
- a thorough study of how to identify birds, plus related topics such as birding by ear, and birding at night;
- key optical equipment for birding, highlighting binoculars and spotting scopes, and how to use them; and
- the exciting activity of locating, approaching, and observing birds in the field.
You’ll also take a detailed look at the vast range of North American bird species, using the forthcoming 7th edition of the classic National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America as a foundation and reference, as well as learning about further important facets of birding, such as how to photograph birds, the best North American birding locations, and important elements of bird conservation.
In their remarkable scope and detail, these lectures are of great value not only for beginning birders, but for experienced enthusiasts who would like to extend and enrich their knowledge. Employing the vast resources of National Geographic, the renowned leader in wildlife and nature education, the course takes you into the field, using filmed demonstrations, location videos, and audio recordings of birdsong, as well as an abundance of visual images. With their substantial material on bird photography, these 24 content-rich lessons are a valuable reference for photographers and will deepen your appreciation of the wonders of the world around you, in the extraordinary lives of the birds which surround us yet often go unnoticed.
Learn the Many Enthralling Facets of Birding
Mr. Currie brings a lifetime of birding experience and a breathtaking knowledge of the avian world to this course, opening doors to every aspect of this world-spanning activity. A warm and inspiring lecturer, he devotes the course’s first half to a study of birding’s core elements, including:
- Bird Identification–In building bird identification skills, learn to recognize orders, families, and species of birds by specific physical characteristics, such as their shape or silhouette, size, color, and anatomical features; additionally, study many other factors which aid in the challenges of identification, encompassing birds’ flight patterns, habitats, geographic ranges, feeding habits, and more;
- The Roles and Dazzling Variety of Bird Plumage–Investigate the functions and different types of bird feathers and plumage variations; observe how many species pass through multiple plumage phases within their lifetime; how others undergo radical seasonal changes in plumage; and how evolution produces the shimmering colors of species such as the green jay, the eared quetzal, and the roseate spoonbill;
- The Extraordinary Phenomenon of Birdsong—Learn how to recognize bird calls, and about the astonishing ways birds vocalize to communicate; discover how many melodic bird songs are actually “boasts”; how some birds have a repertoire of different alarm calls; and how specific species actually develop regional “dialects”;
- Avian Migration—Study the remarkable story of migration, as it manifests in numerous bird species; investigate awe-inspiring examples, from the 25,000-mile seasonal flight of the arctic tern to the spring roosting in Nebraska of half a million sandhill cranes;
- The Marvel of Bird Behavior—Grasp how knowledge of bird behavior aids identification; take account of striking behavioral features such as the western grebe’s dramatic, synchronized mating ritual; the white pelican’s group “herding” of fish; and the mockingbird’s ability to learn over 200 different songs, mimicking other species and environmental sounds;
- Encountering Birds in the Field—Learn key field methods for observing birds; stealth techniques for tracking and approaching birds; ways to attract birds by mimicking bird calls and predators; and how to bring birds into your own yard or surroundings.
Explore North America’s Limitless Birding Opportunities
Spanning the North American continent, you’ll delve into the specifics of bird habitats, from forest and desert to wetlands, chaparral, and tundra, finding the unique avian species that make them their home, as well as how to observe birds in these types of terrain. You’ll also study the principle flyways of bird migration across North America, from east to west and north to south, and the spectacles of migrating species you can observe in each.
After you have learned the basics of birding, you’ll devote six lectures to a panoramic view of the bird species of North America, using vivid color images of our miraculous range of birdlife. Beginning with pelagic (ocean) birds, you’ll encounter waterfowl and shorebirds, raptors, and bird families containing the cuckoos, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, kingfishers, and many others, before taking a three-lecture tour of the Passerine order, the largest group, comprising the perching or songbirds. Finally, from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge to Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park, you’ll investigate 23 of the top North American birding spots, locations which attract many hundreds of species.
Throughout the course, Mr. Currie speaks eloquently of the need for conservation of our precious bird species, and what we as individuals can do to protect endangered birds and their habitats. You’ll also learn about organizations that promote avian welfare, and how you can participate directly in their efforts, both at home and in the field.
The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America is your key to the extraordinary world of birds and birding–in your own backyard as well as across our majestic continent; an endlessly diverse and rewarding pursuit which offers you a lifetime of pleasure and discovery.