Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior
Great book on bird life and behavior
One might be familiar with the Sibley bird guide books. David Sibley is an excellent artist who is very knowledgeable about bird behavior and different types of molts and plumages. His artwork helps illustrate this large, informative book, published by Knopf, Inc. for the National Audubon Society. Unlike other bird guides, this book focuses less on identifying birds than on actual bird behavior and conservation. It also has a section on basic bird anatomy. Each section is divided into family groups (storks, egrets, grebes, ducks, gulls, etc).
The photo for this module is the front cover of the 2001 edition by Chanticleer Press.
All of the photos on this lens were taken by me unless otherwise noted.
Specifics of the book
The edition I am reviewing is the 2001 edition, though past and future editions have changed very little since they were first published. This edition has 587 pages except for the species index. It is filled with wonderful illustrations by David Sibley, usually at least one per page or one for every other page. Many of these illustrations may seem familiar with readers as they have been licensed to other books and websites. It is edited by Chris Elphick, John. Dunning, Jr., and David Allen Sibley.
The book is divided into two major parts:
The World of Birds
Flight, Form, and Function
Origins, Evolution and Classification
Habitats and Distributions
Population and Conservation
Bird Families of North America
Divided into every type of family of birds in the region. For example:
Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns
New World Vultures
Rails, Gallinules, and Coots
Coursers and Pratincoles
Pigeons and Doves
Swallows and Martins
Cardinals and Allies
And many more.
I found all chapters to be fascinating and well illustrated and the information well organized. Even though this is essentially a reference book, it is also a good book to read straight through.
The bird on the cover of the first edition. . .
The bird on the cover of the book is a common yellowthroat. Yellowthroats live all around the country, especially around where I live. Here is a photo I took of a common yellowthroat.
The new, second edition features a yellow-rumped warbler.
Where to purchase the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior - Second edition now out!
Here is a link to the guide if you would like to buy it. I find it not only a useful reference, but an interesting read as well. This is a link to the 2nd edition which is recently updated.
The second edition recently came out and it has new birds and more information that the first version.
Other Sibley Guides
There are several other Sibley Guides to birds out there, all are informative. Most of the guides involve identification of birds in a particular area. Sibley tries to represent all molting phases and anomalies to help make identifying birds easier. Sibley guides are known for their accurate illustrations and information. Also, there's a neat guide to the parts of a bird, seabird, and shorebird near the front of them. I was recommended this guide from an experienced birder over all others.
The book in this review, however, deals with all the intricacies of bird behavior instead. Below is a link to some of the most popular Sibley guides.
Photo in the module was taken by me.
More Sibley Guides
Sibley guides are a valuable resource. But, even if you don't use them as your go-to guide, they're just great to own for the artwork alone. Such beautiful detail in all the pictures.
Guide to eastern birds and vagrants. Like the western field guide, this one will have some birds that are out of range, but occasional visitors.
I have this copy, it covers western birds plus a few eastern vagrants. It has great representations of the seasonal variations of the different birds in the area.
More links to Sibley's work
Here are more links to Sibley's artwork.
- Sibley Guides Blog
Sibley's blog about his art techniques and other bird things. It includes a link to original artwork for sale. I like this site because it talks about birds and birding in general. And, you can find out more about birding guides.
- About Sibley's Guide
Here's a direct link about Sibley's bird guides, including a Q & A with the author himself. The site is also all things Sibley including anything new going on with the artist/author.
- David Sibley's Facebook Page
Check here for the latest events for and by David Sibley.
- David Allen Sibley: How to Draw an Osprey
Sibley gives a demonstration on how to draw an osprey. This is a great page if one wants to learn how Sibley works. I really like the last photo on this page of the kids showing their attempts at doing the drawing.
- David Allen Sibley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia's entry on David Alley Sibley and a list of publications. This page is great if you want to know a little more general information about Sibley or need a bibliography.
Ooo, a flashcard set! How cool! I know flash-cards are helpful when it comes to learning birds and bird facts. This one has over 100 of the most common birds in North America.
Learn the basics of bird identification and behavior. Great for beginners and those who want to know more than just the identity of birds.
Related birding items
Here are a few birding related items that might be a nice addition to your Sibley's guide. I would also suggest optics such as scopes and binoculars, also available through Amazon.
This guide has 189 distinct bird calls. I love to recognize birds by sound as well as sight. I find that I often have to rely on vocalizations, only, because some birds are difficult to find to get a visual ID.
After you look through your guide, try this game testing your skills and knowledge about different bird species.
Have you read or seen any of David Sibley's work or guides?