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The Sibley Guide to Birds and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior are both universally acclaimed as the new standard source of species information. And now David Sibley, America's premier birder and best-known bird artist, takes a new direction; in Sibley's Birding Basics he is concerned not so much with species as with the general characteristics that influence the appearance of all birds and thus give us the clues to their identity.
To create Sibley's Birding Basics, David Sibley thought through all the skills that enable him to identify a bird in the few instants it is visible to him. Now he shares that information, integrating an explanation of the identification process with many painted and drawn images of details (such as a feather) or concepts.
Sibley's Birding Basics begins by reviewing how one can get started as a birder: the equipment necessary, where and when to go birding, and perhaps most important, the essential things to look for when birds appear in the field. Using many illustrations, David Sibley reviews all the basic concepts of bird identification and then describes the variations (of shape, size, and color) that can change the appearance of a bird over time or in different settings. And he issues a warning about "illusions and other pitfalls" – and advice on avoiding them.
The second part ofSibley's Birding Basics, also plentifully illustrated, deals with another set of clues, the major aspects of avian life that differ from species to species: feathers (color, arrangement, shape, molt), behavior and habitat, and sounds.
This scientifically precise, beautifully illustrated volume distills the essence of David Sibley's own experience and skills, providing a solid introduction to "naming" the birds. With Sibley as your guide, when you learn how to interpret what the feathers, the anatomical structure, the sounds of a bird tell you – when you know the clues that show you why there's no such thing as "just a duck" – birding will be more fun, and more meaningful. An essential addition to the Sibley shelf!
"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"
– Library Journal (09/15/2002)
"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."
– Publishers Weekly (08/12/2002)