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More than 10 years in the making, David Sibley's Guide to Birds is a monumental achievement. The beautiful watercolor illustrations (6,600, covering 810 species in North America) and clear, descriptive text place Sibley and his work squarely in the tradition of John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson; more than a birdwatcher and evangelizer, he is one of the foremost bird painters and authorities in the U.S. Still, his field guide will no doubt spark debate. Unlike Kenn Kaufman's Focus Guide, Sibley's is unapologetically aimed at the converted. Beginning birders may want to keep a copy of Sibley at home as a reference, but the wealth of information will have the same effect on novices as trying to pick out a single sandpiper in a wheeling flock of thousands. The familiar yellow warbler, for instance, gets no less than nine individual illustrations documenting its geographic, seasonal, and sex variations--plus another eight smaller illustrations showing it in flight. Of course, more experienced birders will appreciate this sort of detail, along with Sibley's improvements on both Peterson and the National Geographic guide:
Some birders will be put off by the book's size. Slightly larger than the National Geographic guide, it's less portable than most field guides and will likely spend more time in cars and desks than on a birder's person while in the field. For some it will be a strictly stay-at-home companion guide to consult after a field trip; others may want to have it handy in a fannypack or backpack. But regardless of how it is used, Sibley's Guide to Birds is a significant addition to any birding library. "Birds are beautiful," the author writes in the preface, "their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature." Pleasing, too, is this comprehensive guide to their identification. --Langdon Cook
The bird-watching world knows Sibley best as an immensely talented painter. His thick, attractive and data-packed color guide offers nearly 7,000 images, along with range maps and detailed descriptions of songs, calls and voices, for all the birds North Americans might see. It's a more informative volume than Kenn Kaufman's forthcoming Birds of North America (Forecasts, Sept. 11) but less portable and harder for beginners to use. An introduction describes the key parts of major classes of birdsDthe tomia and culmen of a gull's bill, the scapulars and coverts of passerines (songbirds). Sibley then moves on to hundreds of pages of birds in 42 categories, from Loons and Grebes to Silky Flycatchers and Bulbuls. A typical page has two columns, with one species in each: that species gets a color-coded range map, a description of its voice, and four to eight illustrative paintings. These multiple images of single species are the guide's most attractive feature; they let Sibley show some birds in several poses, as well as important seasonal and regional, juvenile and mature, breeding and nonbreeding, or male and female versions of the same bird. (Gulls, terns, and many other seabirds, in particular, change their patterns completely when breeding.) Sibley assists viewers by giving, on the same page, images of species that might be mistaken for one anotherDone column shows 13 kinds of thrushes. He also describes calls for every bird (not just the more common ones), and makes many more comparisons. If Kaufman's guide belongs in birders' coat pockets, Sibley's big, detailed book belongs on their desks; it's easy to imagine birders rushing to Sibley's guide to check details of plumage or to confirm an ID the smaller guide has helped them make.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
great book for identifying the different birds who come to our feeder.Published 10 months ago by Daniel C
This book was recommend to us by a long-time birder and it is definitely worth the money. We are enjoying having it in our collection of go-to books.Published 20 months ago by Koona Sutter
Regretted buying it.
Not much more info than the Field Guides. Not worth the weight of this volume.
Hope this helps.
This is an excellent book content-wise, but it is definitely not a field guide. I would recommend purchasing the two smaller eastern and western edition guides, since they contain... Read morePublished on May 16 2008 by B. Blebs
A very, very good book of truly great assistance in identifying difficult birds such as Bicknell's Thrush and in distinguishing others such as Eastern and Western Meadowlarks. Read morePublished on July 21 2004 by J. Denys Bourque
A truly magnificent book, which, coupled with its companion volume, the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, provides the definitive text on American birdlife.Published on Jan. 12 2004 by MR JIM BARTY
Mr. Sibley has created a bird guide for the 21st century. Practical, logical and incredibly informative, The Sibley Guide to Birds is the bird watchers bible. Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2003 by LeicaMan
I've owned the Sibley since it's release and I've just about worn the poor book to nothing. This book, his life's work, holds a detail in it's paintings that is simply... Read morePublished on Nov. 27 2003 by William Cornell
The only authorative guide to U.S. birds. And, a great guide. No birder should be without it.Published on Oct. 13 2003 by Scott Lewis