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Audubon's Birds of America, by Roger Tory Peterson and Virginia Marie Peterson. New York: Abbeyville Press Inc. 712 pp. $150.

Weighing in at 14 pounds, measuring nearly 12 by 15 inches, and costing a hefty $150 ($300 deluxe), this is not the book you'd pack for an all-day field trip.

This is the book that serious birders have been waiting years for, however. Introduced and arranged by America's foremost ornithologist, Roger Tory Peterson , and his wife, Virginia, it presents all of Audubon's historic bird engravings in 917 illustrations, 482 of them in color.

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The plates are organized phylogenetically - in a scientific sequence that roughly parallels their evolutionary history. And what plates they are!

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