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Audubon VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America
Audubon VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
NR     2004

Features: Skillful mix of video and stills that will delight and inform. Beautiful moving footage and stills, bird calls and sounds. Includes video of 505 total birds from North America. Volume I - 247 water, prey and ...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Educational, Documentary
Studio: Mastervision
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 07/27/2004
Release Year: 2004
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Could be better
Robert Fallon | El Cerrito, CA United States | 10/28/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"No doubt, the Audubon Society's VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America 2-DVD set will help birders identify species in the field. It feels very much like a video version of a field guide--range maps, bird size and distinguishing characteristics, with birds grouped in families. Instead of a picture, there are stills as well as brief clips. It is dry and relaxing, species after species after species, about 32 seconds on each.

But let me point out some shortcomings. The DVD is a transfer from an earlier VHS version of the same material, so the video quality often suffers, the colors and sharpness of images are often distorted. The narration sometimes does not correspond to what is shown: the color of a bird's tail, for example, will be described when the image of the bird shows no such color. The narration also is superimposed on the birdsong audio recordings from the Cornell Ornithology Lab, so the song cannot be studied without listening to the narration. The songs are also brief and offer no range of expression, but only a single call or song.

No texts are available, as are found on the excellent Audubon Society's "Interactive CD-ROM Guide," so the only information on a species is what the narrator offers (which is admittedly helpful). The CD-ROM covers 723 species, so the 505 covered here represents only 70% of the continent's species--not very high.

Finally, the indexing has a serious problem. The video contains brief introductions to most families before it begins a species-by-species description. But these introductions to the families are not indexed. So if you jump to the chapter that begins the various swallows, you will not see the introduction to the swallow family. To see this, you have to rewind for a few seconds, as it's tacked onto the end of the previous species.

3 1/2 stars. I expect more from the Audubon Society.
Many defective tracks
Bird Watcher | 12/31/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not sure what happened when Audubon decided to transfer their five VHS tapes of their videoguide onto DVDs. As has been mentioned in other reviews here, the quality on many of the tracks is inconsistent, and often downright poor. However, more importantly, I have found many tracks to be defective, and after returning this product and receiving a new copy, I found the same defects. On Disc 1, if you try to watch the tracks on the Buteos, or on the Owls, or even the "introduction" or "glossary" from the main menu, the video is garbled and unwatchable, as if the transfer to DVD had problems but was not corrected. Overall, a potentially exciting but ultimately disappointing video guide."
I work for the publisher of this title
Peter Kreutzer | Brooklyn, NY USA | 08/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"These DVDs are a very faithful transfer of the VHS version of the Audubon Society VideoGuides, which means that they are limited to the original contents of those videos. These were very well-reviewed (which is why, along with the reviews for the VHS version, I rated them 4 stars above) and have sold very well over the years. This isn't a CD-Rom product, but the original format is vastly improved by the direct access to each bird from the opening menu that DVD enables.

The DVDs also come with a 64 page color mini fieldguide, which serves as an expanded table of contents for the DVDs and quick way to find bird families.

As to the issue of the indexing, if you click on the bird family name in the bird family submenu you will go directly to the introductory section for the families that have introductions (not all do). This isn't as clear as it should be, but it does work.

Mastervision, the publisher of this title, is very sorry that there was a technical problem with the manufacture of an early run of disks and is committed to fixing it. Getting all those disks out of the supply chain hasn't been possible, but if you have a problem your bad disk will be replaced. Absolutely. We are committed to your satisfaction."
An essential bird watching tool!
Hyla's Brook | Canaan, NY United States | 08/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Audubon Society brings together all the elements of field identification in this DVD - each bird species' 30 to 40 second clip includes still photographs, the bird's distinctive call, and a video of its distinguishing behavior - be it flight pattern, tail wagging, or how it moves up and down a tree. This DVD is an essential tool for both the serious and casual bird watcher.

The 2 DVD set documents 505 birds that reliably breed north of Mexico. The menu system divides the birds in specific groups, following the classification used in field guides. (Loons are the first group on the first DVD). Within each group each species is listed. One can select a clip for a specific group of birds or a specific bird, or watch the DVD in its entirety as it moves sequentially through the various bird groups.

Each entry shows a still picture of the bird, providing its length, wingspan, and key field marks. Immature, Adult, Male, Female, and Breeding plumage are shown as needed. The bird's most characteristic call is played over the narration, and in many cases there is a video clip of the bird in flight, or displaying characteristic behavior. The narrator demonstrates how distinguish similar birds with either side by side photographs or with a video clip of the two species together.

Finally, a range map is displayed showing breeding, summer, winter, and all season ranges. A deeper hue is used to indicate where in the range the species population is densest. The narrator adds to this map by indicating when and where some birds might be found outside their range.

These DVDs are a key tool in bird identification, pulling together various bird guides and video programs about birds - one can key in to one bird or a specific group of birds using the easy to follow menu system, or simply watch the dvd from beginning to end to view the remarkable variety of our North American feathered friends."