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The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition
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252 of 257 people found the following review helpful
**UPDATE 2**
I have purchased the second printing of this second edition and I am very happy with the corrections. The richer colors add new life to Sibley's paintings, the text is clear and easy to read and the layout is much improved. Page space is better utilized in this edition, allowing Sibley's beautiful illustrations to take center stage. The only caution I add is that, to my knowledge, there is no way to know what printing of the second edition you are purchasing when ordering through Amazon.com.

**UPDATE**
The second printing has been released and should be available at brick & mortar book stores as well as a number of online stores. Hopefully Amazon will make a distinction between the first and second printings so that its customers can order the correct one. In case there is no way of knowing which printing you are buying from Amazon, I offer the following 2 options:

1) Go to a brick and mortar book store and physically purchase the guide. You will want to turn to the copyright page and look for "Second printing, July 2014". If it says "Second Edition, March 2014" then you are holding the first printing with the off colors and light font.

2) Go to an alternative online source such as Buteo Books, where the second printing is in stock, available for shipping and it is specified as the second printing. They even have the option to buy the first printing if one is so inclined.

When I obtain the second printing, I will update this review. So far, I have heard good things: the font is readable and the colors are more representative of what one would see in the field. I'm looking forward to this second printing!
**

A very annoying feature of this guide is the font. Not the size necessarily, but where many of the bird illustrations are WAY too dark, the font is way too light and lacks contrast. I keep tilting the book to get a better angle as if the text is catching or reflecting light but it's not. I have great eyesight, but I find the text a strain to read. Many of the birds are too dark and the colors are simply wrong. This shouldn't be a matter of opinion. The book betrays itself with statements like "brilliant red" on the scarlet tanager when it's obviously showing dark red; "flaming-orange throat" on the blackburnian when it's dark orange; "bright orange-red bill (never as dark red as many Caspians)" on the royal tern, well it's not bright and when you flip to the Caspian it's almost the same color! The orange-crowned warbler is green, the hooded warbler has a highlighter-yellow face, the baltimore oriole's orange is more like an american robin's red and there are many more disappointments. Some of the bird's faces are so dark that you can barely discern any detail. Sibley set the bar and his second edition does not measure up.

Update: Thank you to R. Matz for providing a link to an article from birdforum.net in which Sibley has stated in a Facebook correspondence "There are a few images (like the male Scarlet Tanager) that are obviously not OK and will be corrected in the next printing, but I think that involves a very small number of images. The font is another issue, and it's clear that too many are finding it hard to read. Tests are already being done to find a way to fix that in the next printing."

Improving the readability of the text will be a major improvement. Along with the male Scarlet Tanager, I hope Sibley will fix color issues with the following birds:
- Eastern and Western Bluebirds (too dark)
- Orange-crowned Warbler (too green)
- Blackburnian Warbler (make the orange "flaming")
- Baltimore Oriole (brighten the orange)
- Lighten some of the birds on which the facial features cannot be discerned

I look forward to the next printing (which should be available this September)and the fixes it will offer. A "Thank you" to B. Walker for contacting Knopf to find out that a fix is in the works and that we should have a new print available to purchase by late Summer.
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148 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2014
Sibley's First Edition is my birding bible. Sadly, the font chosen for this edition is so thin I find it unreadable with normal reading glasses. I have no such problem with the First edition. Also, colors are so saturated they are misleading in some species, especially with reds. These problems are a huge disservice to David Sibley's outstanding artwork. I am returning it, as the delicate text is unreadable, making it useless to me, and I imagine to many folks over 50. A huge disappointment, as I'd looked forward to Sibley's new plates and the expanded information in the text, but I can't read it without a magnifying glass! A big mistake by the publisher. I regretfully caution folks who need reading glasses to wait for a better printing.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
No one can question Sibley's technical and artistic skills when it comes to birding, but similar to other reviews, I simply couldn't read the text. The font was too small and the font color was too washed out. Literally, after 5 minutes, I just couldn't read more.
Just to be clear too, I would not classify this as a field guide. It is way too heavy for that, it's literally 3 lbs and I doubt few would venture into the field with this. I work out with weights 5 days a week and this book is heavy, partly driven by the high quality paper,
It's clear that Sibley put huge effort into the illustrations and updating the content. And kudos to him for that! But you have to question the editors who laid out some of the content. I just found the layout often fragmented and hard to follow.
As a pure field guide, I still prefer the National Geographic Guide. It's simpler to use, find your birds faster and provides more succinct and helpful written descriptions.
As a reference source, Sibley's new edition is fine, but for an everyday go to bird guide, it doesn't work for me and I returned it.
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
I waited a long time for this new edition and ordered two copies.
. I really enjoy the updated nomenclature, species in the current order , the addition of 111 species which should have been in the first edition IMHO, also the additional information and ID aids are greatly appreciated.

I am however disappointed in the illustrations compared to the first edition to the point The colors came out over saturated especially on darker birds and most are now much to dark compared to the first edition...Compare the two editions on birds like Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Poorwill or almost everything dark. I do like his fix on the Parula page, but still find such species as Clay-colored Sparrow over saturated. They do not reflect reality as noted in the field. This likely a production problem and I am sure Mr. Sibley is not happy about this. This really bums me out and I just am never going to get used to it.

In addition the font size of the type has been reduced significantly and is not black but is a "gray" that makes reading it, especially for older folks, a real challenge.

Yes I will keep a copy for sure for the information therein as I find it of great value, but I will not be giving up my first edition anytime soon and NGS will remain my primary general field guide. or at least the until the printers/press correct the color and print darkness.... I applaud and thank Mr. Sibley on his significant effort and realize that once things go to press/printers he loses a lot of control is lost over what happens there. I am sure the publisher has copies in the 4 digits it needs to sell...But not to me the way it is now. I had to return extra copies today which I was sad about. I still think folks should at least have one copy.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2014
Although the updates and species additions are a nice improvement I find the muddy over saturated colors to be a huge distraction. The dark colors basically obliterate the plumage details necessary for study and reference of many of the species found within. I have always felt the the Sibley Guide first edition was short on text but the delicate images were very useful as a reference. Not so with the second edition. I feel that I have wasted my money and even worse am very disappointed that this long awaited reference will probably never leave my bookshelf.

Avid Birder
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
I preordered the guide and was very excited to get it on the day it was released. I've spend the last couple of days going through it, and I think the colors have improved, contrary to what some others are saying. My only issue is with the text. I am in my late twenties and have never needed glasses, but I need to put this book very close to my face to read comfortably. Either I need a trip to the eye doctor, or the font is way too light to read. Otherwise I adore this book and applaud David Sibley's immense effort to create the best field guide of them all.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
I pre-ordered this book in early December and greatly anticipated receiving it as my 1st edition of this guide is showing it's age

Unfortunately I am returning it.The color issues others have mentioned(too dark for some birds/ inaccurate colors for some species etc)are simply too great to be acceptable. I hope that future printings will correct this problem and also hope that when the eastern and western guides are published that color renditions of birds will be more accurate

Despite my age(65 years next month) the text issues mentioned by other reviewers did not bother me although I can understand why the light color of the text might be a problem for some readers

Otherwise the improvements in the guide compared to the first edition are commendable
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
Tiny gray text. Not black text... gray! Why? Nobody over 50 will be able to read the text. (I wonder how many birders are over 50? he asked, sarcastically) And the pictures are positively drab. Sibley must be furious. They should recall this book and fix this. I'm not sure I can even use it in the field. I'll keep the old one until this is changed.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
The 2nd edition finally arrived! I was so excited, but then I opened the book and gasped. So much had been made of the revised text, however, the publisher neglected to warn potential buyers that actually reading the text would be a challenge. A big challenge! The font size is tiny, thin, and the ink appears gray. It is just terrible. The color of the birds seem off--often too brightly colored or too dark. Inclusion of additional species is most welcome though.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2014
I'm in total agreement with the other reviewers, many of the illustrations are so dark as to be virtually unusable. In many if not most cases, if a bird has a black face or wide eyestripe, no eye is visible. The Scarlet tanager color is simply wrong, and many oth reds and yellows are way off. Simple editing mistakes - check the Heerman's/Slaty-backed gulls on the gull summary page at the start - inconsistency of description placement, other color errors, eg Heerman's gull again says bill red, but shows and orange bill, and so on. In my opinion all these errors mean two things - don't buy the book until the second printing, when hopefully these errors will be fixed, and current purchasers should be offered a rebate on a new copy. Had I seen the book prior to purchase I never would have bought it. The new information is good and useful, but the illustrations, errors - and yes, hard to read font - make this a book to leave until a corrected printing comes out.
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