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Audubon VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America on Two DVDs Review by Tina Rice

969 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028

The Audubon VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America produced by Mastervision is a two-DVD set that includes a printed mini field guide. The two DVDs are labeled with bird types, and the mini field guide indicates which birds are found on which disk. The first DVD includes 247 birds, including loons; pelicans and their allies; swans, ducks and geese; vultures, hawks and falcons; chicken-like birds, such as turkey, quail, and pheasant; wading birds; shorebirds; gulls; owls; and many more. The second DVD includes the following 258 birds, including pigeons and doves; cuckoos; hummingbirds; woodpeckers; swallows; crows, jays and magpies; chickadees and titmice; wrens; bluebirds, robins and other thrushes; blackbirds and orioles; sparrows; finches; and many more.

If you are new to birding or love birds and want something innovative, Mastervision has produced an unbelievable DVD set. Just pop a DVD into your DVD player and you are set to see and hear about each bird. I was initially skeptical about a DVD bird guide. I wondered what use would it be in a backyard or out in the field. The beauty of this product is that with a portable DVD player you can take your guide anywhere and not just look at a small photograph or artist's rendering of a bird in a book, but you can hear its call, see its flight pattern, and watch its interaction with other birds. Other features included with each bird segment are range maps and informational narration.

Abigail, Daniel, and I watched the first DVD and enjoyed seeing ducks, loons, owls, and eagles. I was surprised that a 6-year-old would want to sit and watch most of the DVD. Daniel was particularly impressing with the hawks and falcons, so we watched this section a second time. The producers use technology so that you can "see" how a bird flies. Animation has made it possible to really see how the wings move. Abigail was very impressed with the video footage of birds in their native habitat. I liked listening to the bird sounds. I plan to use this DVD to attract local birds to my feeders using the repeat feature on my portable DVD player. The hummingbird footage on the second DVD is terrific. I love hummingbirds!

The DVDs come with a Play All feature, a category for bird selection (like chapters), and interviews. My only complaint about the Find a Bird feature is that the number the bird is identified with in the mini field guide and on the actual DVD is not the same as the tract number. Therefore, Bird 17 is not tract 17.

I enjoyed Mastervision's production of Audubon's 505 birds. I am going to show it to the owner of my local bird store and recommend he carry it in his store. This product is not a substitute for a good field guide, but an enhancement to any birder's library. It is particularly suited to children and strong audio/visual learners.

Product review by Tina Rice, Contributing Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2006