[Tweeters] Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edtn

David Hutchinson flora.fauna at live.com
Tue Mar 11 15:49:06 PDT 2014

Well, for what it is worth, my copies of the new version of Sibley have arrived and it is hard to know what all the negative fuss is about. It is much what one would hope for, though at the outset I will venture that it seems almost too big and quite heavy. Beyond that, the large size means that the pages are very nicely and clearly laid out with few species on each page. This means, for example, that the several different races of Horned Lark can be featured together. Or that our two members of the Trogon family also can be on their own page side by side, though this is not strictly required for identification purposes.

I am not a Sibley obligate, though there are a great many who are. For life-like paintings of birds, I still revere Don Eckelberry and L.A.Fuertes. Nor am I enough of a birder to appreciate some of the added nuances that might occur in the new edition. But for example I did appreciate the page drawings of male hummingbird displays. There is one column misleadingly entitled:Warbler-like Birds, which should probably be entitled: Birds colored like Warblers.

As for the notion that the colors are "off" in some genera or species, for me it was hard to tell. Rather the bird paintings read to me as though they were appearing under bright light or in perfect conditions. After all a field guide in essence is an artificial creation and it is the schematics of a bird's appearance that we use most of the time to separate species, so I appreciated their clarity. On the other hand some of the plan-form views of birds in flight sometimes appeared cookie-cutter.

Overall, this new book had the feel of a field guide that was merging into an avian visual encyclopaedia, perhaps best as table top reading.

David Hutchinson,
Flora & Fauna Books,
3213 West Wheeler St., # 6,
Seattle,WA 98199

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