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Audubon Society's VideoGuide to Birds of North America (VHS Set) Review by Kris Price

969 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028

This product is a birding hobbyist's goldmine! The VHS set of the Audubon Society's VideoGuide to Birds of North America contains five delightful tapes that give basic information on over 500 birds. At the beginning of each tape are concise instructions about how the information on each bird will be presented as well as a complete list of birds that will be discussed in that volume.

Vol. I--116 species of loons, grebes, pelicans and their allies, swans, geese and ducks, hawks, vultures and falcons, and the chicken-like birds (pheasants, grouses, quail, ptarmigans). 94 minutes
Vol. II--112 species of water birds, including herons and egrets, cranes, shore birds, gulls, terns, and alcids. 78 minutes
Vol. III--76 species of pigeons and doves, cuckoos, owls, nighthawks, hummingbirds and swifts, trogons, kingfishers, and woodpeckers. 61 minutes
Vol. IV--98 species of flycatchers, larks, jays, titmice, warblers, swallows, crows, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, thrushes, and vireos. 75 minutes
Vol. V--108 species of warblers, orioles, blackbirds, tanagers, finches, grosbeaks, buntings, and sparrows. 80 minutes

The narrator of each tape explains the birds' ecology, population status, and location during the seasons using a computer-generated map. Still photos of each bird show details of the bird's markings, while action footage displays the behavior and song of each bird. Knowing the bird's vocalizations will aid in identifying birds in the wild. As each bird is being introduced on the tape, the common and Latin names are displayed at the bottom of the screen; the birds are grouped and discussed by species. This allows the viewer to learn more about the similarities and differences among the birds of a specific species.

I am not a birding hobbyist and can only identify the most basic backyard birds, but after watching these tapes I am very interested in learning more about the birds that inhabit my part of North America. I can also see the value of watching a specific part of a tape to learn more about birds my family might encounter on a trip or vacation in another area of our vast country. My daughter and I found the tapes very interesting and not boring at all. It's amazing how different over 500 species of birds can truly be! On a lighter note, a side benefit to owning the tapes is that we were able to entertain ourselves while watching our cats watching the tapes . . . they both give them a "double paws up!" The VHS five-tape set retails for $89.97, or each volume can be purchased separately for $19.95. The set is also available on two DVDs, priced at $39.95 each (or $69.95 for the set). A benefit to purchasing the DVD set is the accompanying "full color 64-page mini field guide to all the birds on both DVD's, a beautiful complement to the DVD programs, and a handy book to bring out into the field, too." Children of any age will find the information easy to understand, and parents can use the tapes to learn lots of little facts about birds in their area so that they can make a nature walk a bit more fun and interesting for the entire family!

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2006