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The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

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Book Overview

COMPLETELY REVISED AND UPDATED: F rom renowned birder, illustrator, and New York Times best selling author David Sibley, the most authoritative guide to the birds of the West, in a portable format... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Perfect for everyone!

I have this book sitting by my window for quick reference. I take this with me when I hike also, just incase I see a new bird!

The BEST field guide

I own every book on bird identification that I have been able to find for birds of the western United States. This is by far the one I use the most. I've purchased it for several of my birding friends, keep a copy at my home site and one in my truck. One of the points that makes Sibley's guide so useful is that there are no actual photographs of birds. He has drawings that give the "more common" colorations of each species. Photographs seldom yield such a wide spectrum of coloration. I use other bird guides because they have good information, but Sibley's guide is the one most easy to use, and the most practical for really knowing the bird you are identifying.

1 of 2 favorite bird books

I have owned several bird books, including Peterson's and The Sibley Guide to Birds (my two previous favorites), but find this book more useful because it's smaller (though still not happily totable), you don't need to refer to the back of the book for maps, and birds are confined to my half of the continent. I also find it useful that voice is included in the descriptions, and have used that several times as the tie-breaker. While I understand that size constraints make it impossible to include everything, I do wish the illustrations weren't primarily profiles. There are many times I want to know what the bird looks like from the front (or even the back, although that's really asking a lot). Because of that I supplement this book with the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, which features drawings of birds in more natural postures - less stylized and at random angles. I find that the two books work very well together, but I always reach for Sibley's first.

Take It From a Beginner With Zero Experience

I have read all the other reviews on this page and my stance has not changed. I received this book for Christmas from my parents who got my hints that I like to look at nature a little more closely than most other people. By no means am I a great bird-watcher, but I'm definitely working on improving! While this guide to Western N.America may not be the honkin' encyclopedia other people want to sift through, this book makes for a great excursion guide, a quick way to look birds up. I am, at the moment, in possession of three other bird books, including the Audubon guide. Some have actual photographs, others have different charts. I can't say how often I actually refer to Sibley's in the end. It's just a more "natural" book to flip though. Sibley gives you the basics, here, not extraneous info that weigh down your backpack. I like to keep track of what I see, and then do further research relaxed at home with a drink. The first 17 pages is the usual fare of introductions to birding, color recognition, song recognition and learning, maps, and season keys. The next 7 pages includes a "Bird Topography." I don't know if this is birding lingo or creative writing, but I reference these pages often. Sibley's fantastic drawings are given black & white, sketch, and enhanced colorized treatments with breakdowns of body and wing parts for several different birds. Again, as a beginner, these are essential to me. Thereafter are all the birds in the Western N.A. as detailed by Sibley's hands. Living by the ocean, I have access to a huge variety of birds that I never enjoyed when living in the Rockies. I wouldn't state that the beginner should begin with only this one book. I found that I learned more about bird recognition by looking at several books. Every author has something original to say. But if there is one book to own, it would be Sibley's. Nycticorax!


The larger Sibley field guide caused quite a stir but it was also a bit of a bear, in terms of size. The smaller guides that focus on east and west, are much easier to carry. Everything about them is, really, as good as it gets: the paintings, the maps, the descriptions - a top quality product.

An excellent followup to the Sibley Guide to Birds

My main problem with the original Sibley Guide to Birds has been its size. While it is an excellent and comprehensive reference, it is just too bulky to carry in the field. Sibley found the answer in coming out with separate guides for East and West. The new western guide, a wonderful addition to the Sibley family, contains updated nomenclature and range maps. Also, it contains only western birds and those eastern birds that have have shown up in the west as accidentals. It leaves out the eastern birds that have never been seen in the west before, thus saving time when using the book to ID a bird in the field. The biggest advantage is the smaller size which actually makes it feasible to carry in the field without nearly as much difficulty. Although there is a loss of detail compared to the original Sibley guide, this is a small price to pay for the portability of the smaller size. For the serious birder I would recommend getting both this book (for the field) and the originaly Sibley Guide to Birds (for a reference), but otherwise this book (or its eastern counterpart depending on where you live) is definitely the way to go for a comprehensive, portable field guide.
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