I've just received a review copy of The Birds of Europe, 2nd Edition with Text and Maps by Lars Svensson and Illustrations and Captions by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström.
The first edition was widely considered to be the epitome of field guides, and the revisions found in this edition will cement its reputation as an archetype to which others will be compared.
I'd say that any serious North American birder needs this guide. I often turn to this book in reference to holarctic species that we share with Europe. For example, I think this book's treatment of Jaegers (er, Skuas seeing that it is a European guide...) surpasses anything in the N.A. guides and rivals the specialty Skuas and Jaegers guide (out of print but available as pricey used versions) by Olsen and Larsson. Then there's always the chance of vagrants from across the pond in need of ID- stint, anyone?
Anyway, I'd encourage anyone who doesn't have this guide to check it out. Here's more info from Princeton University Press, the publisher.
Since it was first published a decade ago, Birds of Europe has become the definitive field guide to the diverse birdlife found in Europe. Now this superb guide has been brought fully up to date with revised text and maps along with added illustrations. Uniquely designed for easy use in the field, this expanded edition covers all 772 species found in the region as well as 32 introduced species or variants and 118 very rare visitors. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, voice, habitat, range, and size. More than 3,500 full-color illustrations depict every species and all major plumage variations, and color distribution maps provide breeding, wintering, and migration ranges for every species.
Complete with an introduction to each group of birds that addresses major problems of observation and identification, this new edition is the ultimate field guide to Europe's fascinating birdlife.
Lars Svensson is one of Europe's foremost field ornithologists. Dan Zetterström and Killian Mullarney are two of Europe's leading bird artists.
"The richest and the most comprehensive of the current guides."--Times (London)
"If you are birding in Europe, you must have this guide. It should be on the shelf of many North American bird watchers, especially those who live along the Atlantic coast, where many European birds are found. It should also be in the library of anyone who collects field guides, if for no reason other than you can occasionally take it down and be reminded of what is possible when art and design and purpose are treated as equal parts of a final product."--Bird Watcher's Digest