The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding, edited by John Farrand,
Jr. (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1983; three-volume set, $42), is built
around photographs instead of illustrations. You get more fidelity in
this 1,244-page compilation, but some photographs can obscure field
marks that artists have no trouble rendering. Where no good photographs
exist, illustrations are supplied.
The biggest of the guides mentioned here, this set has generally
the largest illustrations and the most text. Taking a note from Roger
Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to Western Birds, the Audubon guide
opens each entry with general information about the bird’s habitat,
numbers, migration patterns, and food. Separate sections describe the
bird itself, its voice (onomatopoeia again), similar species, and range.
The categorical format leaves nothing out. Audubon’s master
guide is a good backup for any true field guide, but probably too bulky