Books: Extended Wings

THE AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS by John K. Terres

Knopf; 1,109pages; $60

Thoreau observed that man's urge to understand the natural world is often thwarted by his passion "that all things be mysterious and unexplorable." Former Audubon Magazine Editor John K. Terres offers a refreshing alternative: a 7½-lb., kaleidoscopic catalogue of the appearance, habitats, songs, ranges and nests of 847 avian species found in North America. Terres finds no need to overstate the complex marvels of the feathered world outside the window.

Nor does the reader have to join the 8 million-plus U.S. birders to enjoy the nearly 6,000...

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