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Sibley's Birding Basics Paperback – October 1, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Sibley's (The Sibley Guide to Birds) book is a field guide primer, it provides useful information for not only novice bird watchers, but also for veterans hoping to expand their life lists. This compact handy volume is an ideal complement to the author's two massive works on bird identification and behavior. Beginning with his trained artist's eye, Sibley advises readers on how to develop techniques in sighting birds by honing their ability to see details. Sibley also provides information on where, when and how to find and observe birds in the wild, ranging from the obvious, being quiet and moving slowly, to the more esoteric, anticipating birds' needs and keeping field notes. One of the most difficult tasks for bird watchers is differentiating between subspecies with very similar physical appearances. With this in mind, the writer provides suggestions for sketching birds in the field with special emphasis on comparative details, which will enable the birder to make a positive identification later. There's a bounty of information about feathers shapes, colors, sizes and functions, all discussed in accessible language. The book's illustrated entries range from common birds to the most rare. With its analysis of weather, gear, geography and seasons, Sibley's book will enable birders of all skill and experience levels to improve their abilities and enhance the satisfaction of their birding treks.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Extraordinary artist and naturalist Sibley follows his highly acclaimed The Sibley Guide to Birds and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior with this excellent and attractive guide to birding basics. In 16 thoughtful, concise essays accompanied by 200 paintings, mostly new for this book, he explores general aspects of birding such as getting started, misidentification, voice, understanding feathers, age variation, ethics and conservation, taxonomy, and finding birds. If being a field naturalist is a craft, then this book is essential in helping to develop and understand the required skills. This little gem is worth the modest price for the paintings, or the text, alone. Highly recommended-Henry T. Armistead, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375709665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375709661
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey J. Jones on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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?
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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback
This is the book that I wished I had when I started bird watching. This book explains the strategies you should use to identify birds. When you go out birding you will often (nearly always?) not see the bird clearly, or long enough to make a perfect call. This book addresses that problem. I have never seen it addressed so well.
All of the three recent Sibley books are just first rate. I recommend starting with this one on identification, then getting his general guide one, then the one that talks about their behavior. I really liked the behavior one also. Its great to research out a bird that you are watching to find out more about how they act.
The illustrations in all of his books are first rate. I have a lot of bird books and found that Sibley's are the best of those I bought.
John Dunbar
Sugar Land, TX
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Format: Paperback
I came into this book with some interest in learning to identify birds around the yard to a greater extent. This is the first book that I've seen to go beyond the basics of shape and color. It's actually a virtual biology lesson on birds with fine details about feathers, and molting among other topics. Very detailed materials that help the reader understand how to see the parts of the bird beyond quick impressions in order to make identifications. But I also gained a new insight into an animal that I took for granted just seeing every day. Sibley is an incredible artist and liberally demonstrates his concepts with sketches and drawings of a wide variety of birds. The combination of beautiful art, and clear, educational writing makes one of the best introductions I've ever seen to birds, and how to know and appreciate them. Highly recommended for the casual as well as serious bird enthusiast.
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