Sibley’s Birding Basics

Sibley’s Birding Basics

Sibley's Birding Basics

  • ISBN13: 9780375709661
  • Condition: New
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“I wrote and illustrated this book to help every inquisitive birder, from novice to expert. Whether you can identify six birds or six hundred, you’ll be a better birder if you have a grounding in the real nuts and bolts of what birds look like, and your skills will be even sharper if you know exactly what to look for and how to record what you see.” —David Allen Sibley

The Sibley Guide to Birds and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior are both universally acclaimed as the n

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  1. Jeffrey J. Jones "jjjones-wp" says:
    147 of 154 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Sibley’s best work to date – best book for building ID skill, October 22, 2002
    Jeffrey J. Jones “jjjones-wp” (Woodland Park, CO USA) –

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    This review is from: Sibley’s Birding Basics (Paperback)

    I just finished reading SIBLEY’S Birding Basics. I was impressed enough with it that I thought I would write a short review.

    In the past, when friends/acquaintances have asked what books I would recommend in order to improve their birding skills – not a field guide – I would recommend either Birding for Beginners; Sheila Buff or The Complete Birder; Jack Connor. In addition, I would always recommend getting The Basics of Bird Identification (Bird Topography) – A Birders Journal Publication. This is because neither of the two previous texts dedicated sufficient, if any, time on understanding bird topography. Reading the latter text was a big breakthrough for me in bird identification. I believe it is absolutely essential if you want to start nailing the tough field identifications. It gives you an understanding and takes you to another level of bird identification that you are just not going to get outside of bird-in-hand, detailed examination experience.

    I have both of Sibley’s previously published texts – he has been quite voluminous lately – The SIBLEY GUIDE to Bird Life & Behavior and The SIBLEY Guide to Birds. While I have mixed emotions about the goals of each of these texts and Sibley’s success in accomplishing them, I can argue that they are very worthwhile books and any avid birder should probably count them among their personal library.

    This brings us to Sibley’s latest text, the topic of this CoBirds post. I have been birding all my life; more seriously for about the past 10 years or so – thanks to Walt and Alan V.

    So you might say, “why read a ‘birding basics’ book?” There are two answers:
    1) I am an incurable book hound, and digest most all books I can get my hands on in my areas of interest, and
    2) I believe there is always more to learn.

    Now some books fall short on the promise of #2. I will start reading it, then just skim it, and then finally just put it on my shelf after it has sat on my nightstand without being touched for the requisite amount of time. This latest book from Sibley was not one of those. I believe this is his best work yet. And compared to those large tomes of his two previous publications, it comes in a small paperback book only 155 pages long.

    I believe this book has something to offer for beginner to expert. I picked up at least one new piece of information in every section, and sometimes, many more. In addition, he devotes a great deal of time to bird topography. So this new book has everything that I used to recommend two books for, rolled into one. It is extremely readable; has a natural progression of topics; and many illustrations that help to drive home advanced topics.

    If you are considering a book to enhance your birding identification skills, all of the books that I mentioned in the second paragraph above are very worthwhile, but I believe that Sibley’s new book has just taken first place in my recommendation list.

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  2. Elizabeth Rosenthal says:
    73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The book to get before the others, November 11, 2002

    This review is from: Sibley’s Birding Basics (Paperback)

    I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by David Allen Sibley at the Princeton University Bookstore a couple of weeks ago. He’s a shy person, but once he starts talking about his favorite subject (birds, of course), he’s as talkative as the most garrulous of people. Even in person, then, his knowledge of all minutiae of the avian world is staggering. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the common pitfalls of the struggling, novice birder who wants so much to identify that giant bird with the colors of a goldfinch or the raptor as small as a songbird. He told us a couple of amusing stories about bird misidentification, one of which involved a mistake he made years ago… which just goes to show that if Mr. Sibley can make a birding mistake, there’s hope for the rest of us.

    Anyway, “Sibley’s Birding Basics” does, indeed, serve as the introduction to his bestselling field guide that he’d originally hoped to include in the field guide. He covers all the essential bird identification topics in a clearly, if scholarly, written manner, from the importance, structure and groupings of feathers; to the bird’s outer anatomy; to birdsong; to clues to bird identification (behavior, molt patterns, feather wear-and-tear) that aren’t covered at all in other field guides. And the illustrations, a talent for which Mr. Sibley is justifiably famous, are the most meticulous you’ll find anywhere, whether the drawing shows a comparison between a summer tanager and a northern cardinal or simply of feather types.

    Finally, “Birding Basics” includes a brief but to-the-point admonition to birders who might venture too close or too noisily to the objects of their fascination. For example, you read about the usefulness of “pishing” in other books and hear about it from other expert birders, but Mr. Sibley believes this technique is overused and has the potential to harm many birds’ ability to go about their difficult daily existence.

    In conclusion, run, don’t walk, to the nearest computer and order this book from!

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