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Venice

Day 08 - A Non-Fictional Book

The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley

Not sure how to choose a non-fiction book about which to write, so I went to my LibraryThing page and pulled up all the books I've ever given 5 stars (the highest possible rating; I only give these out occasionally). Of the non-fiction that appeared there, this is the book I've spent the most time with, by far.

I've used several birding field guides over the years. My first was the Golden Guide, and then Peterson's Eastern. When I got my first National Geographic guide, I fell in love and that quickly superseded even Peterson. And then David Sibley released this guide. From the moment I had it in my hands, I felt like I'd found my One True Love, and I've never looked back.

This guide is beautiful. It has all the basic things I like in a field guide - it's illustrated (I vastly prefer illustrated guides over those with photos, which is why I've never been fond of Audubon guides); the text is clear and helpful, and the maps are on the same pages as the descriptions and color plates. But mostly, I love love love the illustrations. No one artist could ever capture the best possible illustration of every single bird, but I think Sibley comes close. His illustrations tend to match most closely what I see when I'm out in the field. I don't know if this says more about him, or me, but whatever the reason, I adore this book. There are many field guides - many excellent guides, I might add - on the market, but this is by far and away my favorite, and the one I would recommend to anyone who just wants one guide for North America.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
emperor_fool
Jul. 4th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
We're clearly birding sisters. :-)

I too shun Audubon becuase of the photos. I too prefer NG over Peterson's. I too adore Sibley. But, of course, sisters always have disagreements too. Sibley is just to darn bulky for me to carry in the field, so NG is still my go-to book for birding expeditions, and Peterson's lives in my car, where its even-smaller-than-NG-size makes it the right choice to throw into a pocket or bag when I make an unexpected birding stop. Sibley is the one I peruse at home when I'm dreaming of a future birding trip or trying to figure out what that LBB (little brown bird) I saw was...
here_be_dragons
Jul. 4th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)

No, you're absolutely right. Sibley is too big to carry in the field. So I have a copy of Sibley's Western Birds, which is about the same size as Peterson. That's carryable. :). I also have the Sibley app for my iPad, which I've actually used quite a lot, mostly because of the bird song recordings. Darn it. I need to get out and do some birding. I haven't gone on a dedicated bird walk in months, at least. I did see some great birds up at our turtle field site, though, so that was nice. Still, I should definitely get out and do some birding this summer.

edda
Jul. 6th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
My bird lore is pitiful, except that a lot of them taste good, but since you didn't leave a comment option on the last post (The Haunted Mountain), I thought I'd interject that you might want to read, if you haven't already, Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock and The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley (and I know one of my friends on LJ has read those but I can't recall who). Faerie stuff, the former in more modern times ('60s? '70s?), the latter set around the early 1900's (I think).

Anyhoo, good to see you again!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
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