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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 02:17   #1
jedigrant
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Best bird guides by region...North America

North America

The Sibley Guide to Birds
- by David Allen Sibley. Still my favorite. Runner up goes to the latest NatGeo guide

I agree with the suggestions for Costa Rica and West Indies. For Panama, I'd go with Angehr and Dean.

South America is especially tough, since you almost have to go with (at least) one guide for each country.
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Old Wednesday 27th June 2012, 15:07   #2
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Best Bird ID Reference: agree with The Sibley Guide to Birds--second to none on ID issues. Too big to be considered a true field guide though, and text is sparse on anything but ID issues and not enough text for beginners.

Best Regional Guides for the Field: The Sibley Guide to Birds of Eastern North America and The Sibley Guide to Birds of Western North America. Among the lightest and most compact guides available, yet quite comprehensive. Also have more text, so better for beginners. Not as many plumages illustrated as the "big Sibley" though, so these are not a replacement for it.

Best and Most Comprehensive Photo ID Reference: The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2010); Honorable Mention to The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (2011). All are too heavy to carry in the field though.

Best Pocketable Guide Covering all of N. Am. (north of Mexico): 6th Ed. National Geographic (but it's a bit heavier than I prefer for a portable guide)

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Old Thursday 9th January 2014, 15:30   #3
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Hi all.
I own The Field Guide to the Birds of North America published by National Geogrphic Society in 1983. It was helpful during a journey in California during march/april 2012.

Well time has passed since this publication.I wonder what are the differencies with the new National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. And also how this last is ranked compared to the Sibley’s Guide.
Any advice*?
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Old Thursday 9th January 2014, 16:01   #4
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I have an old NG, the latest NG, and the large Sibley in first edition (a new edition is planned for this year I think). For reasons of weight, the NG was my preferred FG to bring with me on trips to the US, while I often use Sibley while at home. And I think that the new NG is definitely better than the older NG I have. On my last trip I supplemented with the Sibley app on an ipad mini, mainly because that way I also had voices for most birds I would be likely to see. It does help, however, to have both sets of drawings if a very difficult bird

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Old Thursday 9th January 2014, 18:00   #5
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Many thanks Niels. Your remark is useful to me. Especially because of a new edition planned of the Sibley, this I can wait for. So I will purchase the latest NG first.

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Old Friday 10th January 2014, 17:24   #6
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[...]and the large Sibley in first edition (a new edition is planned for this year I think). [...]
Niels
Correct, Niels. Should be on my bookshelf at the end of march:
http://www.bookdepository.com/Sibley.../9780307957900
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Old Friday 10th January 2014, 19:30   #7
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As most here will know a field guide to rare American birds illustrated by the incomparable Ian Lewington is due to appear in the near future (see http://birdingfrontiers.com/category/wild-art/), but some may not be aware that he's also illustrating (at least in part) a more general guide. This should be superb and the equal (or better of anything on the market) although, as a perfectionist, Lewington seems to have the reputation of having a relatively slow production rate.
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Old Friday 10th January 2014, 22:16   #8
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Hi all.
I own The Field Guide to the Birds of North America published by National Geogrphic Society in 1983. It was helpful during a journey in California during march/april 2012.

Well time has passed since this publication.I wonder what are the differencies with the new National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. And also how this last is ranked compared to the Sibley’s Guide.
Any advice*?
It's always a matter of personal preferences to a certain degree. Thus, I have preferred the NG guide for decades, and only in part for the more compact size offered for a book that covers all of the US and Canada. I think I must have bought every edition over the years. Your 1983 edition definitely needs some replacement. There have been many changes in names and otherwise. But I'll definitely get the new Sibley as well when it is out.
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Old Sunday 19th January 2014, 22:12   #9
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New Sibley is on Amazon.co.uk for pre-order at £19.40. Ordered my copy last week.
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Old Thursday 3rd April 2014, 03:00   #10
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I went through several of the guides the other day at Barnes and Noble, I did very much like the Stokes guide, but also liked the National Wildlife Federation's Field guide to Birds of North America as it contained more information on the birds themselves. Does anyone have a recommendation for a more comprehensive guide to birds? It doesn't have to be a tiny book, but something small enough to carry yet balanced between information and images?
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Old Sunday 8th June 2014, 18:10   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
As most here will know a field guide to rare American birds illustrated by the incomparable Ian Lewington is due to appear in the near future (see http://birdingfrontiers.com/category/wild-art/), but some may not be aware that he's also illustrating (at least in part) a more general guide. This should be superb and the equal (or better of anything on the market) although, as a perfectionist, Lewington seems to have the reputation of having a relatively slow production rate.
Having seen a small selection of plates, I can say it looks truly excellent. Should be worth the wait, although I have no idea how long that might be.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2016, 02:09   #12
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I have two field guides that I use, one was a gift and one I bought. The NG Birds of North America is only 3 years old and the AS FG of Southwestern States. having issues finding any that are newer than these two. The Audubon Society one is 16 years old.
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2016, 02:14   #13
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Originally Posted by Jim M. View Post
Best Bird ID Reference: agree with The Sibley Guide to Birds--second to none on ID issues. Too big to be considered a true field guide though, and text is sparse on anything but ID issues and not enough text for beginners.

Best Regional Guides for the Field: The Sibley Guide to Birds of Eastern North America and The Sibley Guide to Birds of Western North America. Among the lightest and most compact guides available, yet quite comprehensive. Also have more text, so better for beginners. Not as many plumages illustrated as the "big Sibley" though, so these are not a replacement for it.

Best and Most Comprehensive Photo ID Reference: The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2010); Honorable Mention to The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (2011). All are too heavy to carry in the field though.

Best Pocketable Guide Covering all of N. Am. (north of Mexico): 6th Ed. National Geographic (but it's a bit heavier than I prefer for a portable guide)

Jim
Hey thanks Jim I just ordered the latest version of Sibley for the Western part of the United States.
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Old Monday 10th October 2016, 18:51   #14
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Does anyone have a good recommendation for a NA guide that includes birds of Hawaii as well? Displaying my geographical ignorance here, not even sure Hawaii is part of the continent technically...
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Old Tuesday 11th October 2016, 10:22   #15
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Does anyone have a good recommendation for a NA guide that includes birds of Hawaii as well? Displaying my geographical ignorance here, not even sure Hawaii is part of the continent technically...
Well, Hawaii is certainly part of the US, but it is so far removed from the continent that it can't possibly be part of it. There is a major part of the Pacific Ocean in-between. I would not think that there were a decently complete FG that includes North America plus the Hawaiian Archipelago. In many respects, it would not make sense as one would have to carry around too much unneeded info wherever one is. That's why even within the NA continent, the handy "Western" and "Eastern" books are so popular.
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Old Wednesday 12th October 2016, 17:34   #16
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That makes sense, thanks Robert. I do have the Sibley West for precisely the reason you describe.
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Old Saturday 29th October 2016, 20:02   #17
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National Geographic next edition?

Now that the dust has finally settled on the new Sibley books, there is time to wonder about the major competitor, the National Geographic FG. Is there an updated edition coming out in the near future? Though I would expect it with mixed feelings. Still prefer the falcons placed with the other raptors. A FG should facilitate finding the birds in the books. I still recall the original Peterson FG, at least the one for Europe, that had swifts and swallows on the same plate. And it was already well known at that time that the two groups are by no means related.
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 03:54   #18
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Looks like the ABA has added Hawaii and it's birds to NA, hopefully our major field guide authors (sibley, NG) will do the same! I can't be the only one who has been frustrated in The past by lack of representation for island birds in our major guides.
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 12:41   #19
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Looks like the ABA has added Hawaii and it's birds to NA, hopefully our major field guide authors (sibley, NG) will do the same! I can't be the only one who has been frustrated in The past by lack of representation for island birds in our major guides.
I would hope that e.g., Sibley would make a separate Hawaii book, but for most people, adding these species to a mainland FG would just add extra weight but not extra usability.

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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 15:52   #20
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Personally I find about 95% of my use of field guides is at home, either before or after birding. Only rarely do I actually carry it afield with me. Is that markedly different from how others utilize them? If I'm specifically targeting a rarity I'll use a sticky tab on its page and maybe bring my book with me but more frequently I just save a bunch of pictures on my phone.

Seems like the few books I've read about being a better birder advise leaving the books at home while you're actually birding and to take your own notes for referencing later.
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 16:09   #21
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Personally I find about 95% of my use of field guides is at home, either before or after birding. Only rarely do I actually carry it afield with me. Is that markedly different from how others utilize them?
Here's one birder who won't go into the field without a field guide relevant to the location. A testament to my shortcomings no doubt, but I've encountered many others with a similar dependence.

Hence my concurrence with the sentiment that Hawaii birds be treated separately.

Gary H
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Old Saturday 5th November 2016, 15:05   #22
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I rarely carry my field guide around for local birding, although obviously will take it with me if in a more "exotic" part of the US or Canada.

I hope they put the Hawaii birds in. If I can get by with a Nat Geo guide that includes vagrants with single records from over a century ago, Adding the 80ish species from Hawaii shouldn't be too bad.
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Old Wednesday 19th April 2017, 14:04   #23
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NG 7th edition due September 12, 2017

According to Penguin Random House, the updated edition of the National Geographic FG is due on September 12 of this year: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/bo...9781426218354/

They don't say anything about Hawaii, so I presume those species will not be included. And for a true field guide, that actually makes sense. I'd expect Puerto Rican species just as well if Hawaii were included.

What bothers me a bit is that they don't seem to have the courage to produce a true FG, meaning no longer adhering to not user-friendly systematics. So, since they announce the book to be "the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithologists’ Union taxonomy", and "taxonomy updated to recent significant scientific rearrangement" I fear falcons will be with the parrots now? Or does the AOU not follow the hype of having to have to follow every trend in systematics?
Of course, for office use, a book with the systematics updated would be quite fine. So why not produce two versions, with the extra one for armchair ornithology.

On the positive side (at least for those counting numbers), there will be 37 new species. I presume mostly splits?
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Old Sunday 23rd April 2017, 12:00   #24
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I actually prefer the taxonomic approach, which to me seems far less arbitrary. I think it also helps quite a bit...having vireos away from warblers for instance, when I started out birding, really helped me in honing on the distinct differences between those groups. Unless the book was utterly amazing, I would probably boycott a field guide that went with a non-taxonomic approach (which is followed by almost all the major NA guides...National Geographic just tends to be updated more regularly than Sibley or Petersen).
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Old Sunday 23rd April 2017, 12:02   #25
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also I presume those 37 species are mostly going to be vagrants and exotics. There have been a good number of splits but I think that number would be closer to say 10 than 37
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