Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds

Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds

My first book, The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds, is the first comprehensive guide to the sounds of North American birds.  In addition to species accounts that will illustrate each sound of each species with spectrograms, the book features an innovative audio index that will make it possible to look up unfamiliar sounds in the field.

The guide will be published in two volumes, Eastern and Western.  Publication date for the Eastern volume is 7 March 2017, with the Western volume following sometime in 2018.  The books will be accompanied by over 5,500 audio recordings of North American Birds, available streaming online at a site hosted by the Macaulay Library.


This book project was well over a decade in the making.  It was in 2003 that I first conceived of an index to bird sounds as the basis for an audio field guide.  At the time, I was unqualified to realize my vision, but I set out to do it anyway, hoping that nobody would beat me to it.  Virtually everything related to bird sounds that I’ve done since — including this entire blog and every single one of my recordings — has been done with this goal in mind.

I set out to write this book because I desperately wanted to use it in the field. I’ve never had the supersonic ears of a Ted Floyd or the tape-recorder memory of a Ted Parker; memorization-based approaches haven’t worked all that well for me.  I wanted a book that would contain vast quantities of bird sound knowledge so that my head didn’t have to.