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The Sibley Guide to Birds

From Opus

The Sibley Guide to Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds

The Sibley Guide to Birds represents more than 12 years of work by David Allen Sibley. The final draft of the artwork and text took over six years to complete, and the finished book was published in October 2000.

Before painting and writing the final draft David spent over 6 years working on the problems of layout and design. The challenge was to meet the goal of illustrating every species and every significant plumage variation; illustrating every species in flight from above and below; describing the complete range of vocalizations for each species; showing all significant subspecies variations; and doing it all in a format that is logical and easy to understand so that even beginners would not be overwhelmed by the wealth of information.

The solution was a new and unique design arranging each species in a vertical column on the page. Most two page spreads show four species, and the images of birds in flight are lined up across the top of the column, birds at rest below that are arranged from the drabbest plumage at the top to the brightest at the bottom. Beneath that is the voice description and then the range map. The book can be thought of as a continuous strip, with birds in flight across the top and range maps across the bottom.

Arranging the birds in this orderly way allows the user to make comparisons easily both between different plumages of the same species (by scanning up and down) and between similar plumages of different species (by scanning left to right). If you've seen a drab fall warbler, all you need to do is scan the upper images of each species to see all of the drabbest warblers. If you've seen a woodpecker in flight, a quick horizontal scan across several pages will show all the possibilities at a glance.

Content and images originally posted by Gaga


[edit] Reviews

[edit] KKBiersdorff's review

I love my Sibley! The illustrations are clear and give common colour variations for season, age and gender. The map of the bird's range gives me an accurate way to tell me whether the bird is what I was looking at (and photographed). This is my primary reference guide at home, but the format is just a bit too large for my jacket pocket. Juggling it with binoculars and camera gear is just not an option when tramping through bird sanctuaries for hours. So my old National Geographic guide still goes on field trips.

[edit] Pros

  • Includes common variations and starts each section with a page showing the whole family

[edit] Cons

  • A tad too big for my pocket on field trips

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