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Recommendations for North American birds

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Old Wednesday 16th August 2017, 19:55   #1
Nicola Main
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Recommendations for North American birds

Hi there. Hoping some of you from across the pond may be able to help me with what would be the best book for a budding learner to North American birds? Don't mind either illustrations or photos as long as there's good information about each bird and it's easy to use (would prefer Eastern regions to Western regions if I had to choose). Also anyone have any recommendations for backyard birds or birdfeeder guides? Have exhausted my supply of British and European bird books and would like to learn something new! Thanks in advance, Nicola.
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2017, 20:12   #2
KC Foggin
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Hi Nicola!

I'd highly recommend Sibley's Guide to Birds.
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2017, 20:30   #3
fugl
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Another vote for the Sibley's, either the book or the app (which is what I personally switched to after using the paper version for a number of years).
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Old Wednesday 16th August 2017, 20:31   #4
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Thanks guys will check it out
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Old Friday 18th August 2017, 12:28   #5
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It depends on what you want the book for. Sibley is an id book with little other info about the different species.

I'm a UK birder and found the National Geographic Complete Birds of North America (ed John Alderfer) interesting, having seen some of the birds. It's a big, chunky book (definitely not a field guide - it was intended as a companion to Nat Geo's field guides ). You can find it for quite a reasonable price on Amazon if you look around.
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Old Friday 18th August 2017, 12:36   #6
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Sibley covers more birds, including rarities, than most other guides, not to mention his paintings are more accurate and portray a wider range of plumages.
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Old Friday 18th August 2017, 13:36   #7
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This topic has been discussed a lot in this thread: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=232438

Start from the newest posts. You should for example find some stating that the big Sibley is less good for a newbie than either the Nat Geo or the small (regional) Sibley books.

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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 22:27   #8
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I really like a combination of the Nat Geo guide and the Sibley. I find Sibley is better for tough ids while Nat Geo is better for rarities, general "up to date-ness", and illustrates more species per page, useful if you are less familiar with NA birds. A new edition of the former is coming out in a month or so.
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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 22:52   #9
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I really like a combination of the Nat Geo guide and the Sibley. I find Sibley is better for tough ids while Nat Geo is better for rarities, general "up to date-ness", and illustrates more species per page, useful if you are less familiar with NA birds. A new edition of the former is coming out in a month or so.
Agree, to a certain extent they're complementary, though if I had to have only one it would be the Sibley--the app not the paper version. The great advantage of the app versions of field guides is that one can take them all out in the field without burdening oneself with several pounds of books. I have all the North American guides (as well as the Collins app for European vagrants and NA/European overlap species), both on my phone (of course) and on an iPad which I always have with me for its larger screen size. I never look at the paper versions nowadays, even at home.

My main gripe at the moment is in reference to the Sibley app which is now way-out-of-date though not in ways that seriously diminish its usefulness in the field.

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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 23:57   #10
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Agree, to a certain extent they're complementary, though if I had to have only one it would be the Sibley--the app not the paper version. The great advantage of the app versions of field guides is that one can take them all out in the field without burdening oneself with several pounds of books. I have all the North American guides (as well as the Collins app for European vagrants and NA/European overlap species), both on my phone (of course) and on an iPad which I always have with me for its larger screen size. I never look at the paper versions nowadays, even at home.

My main gripe at the moment is in reference to the Sibley app which is now way-out-date though not in ways that seriously diminish its usefulness in the field.
That is a place where we differ. I find the Sibley app give slightly less detailed impressions than the book, so at home where I compare with photos, the book definitely wins. My very first trip to the US (as a European) was with the NatGeo book way before apps were even thought of. Most recent trips I have brought that as a book and the Sibley app and that combo has served me well.

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Old Tuesday 22nd August 2017, 03:08   #11
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That is a place where we differ. I find the Sibley app give slightly less detailed impressions than the book, so at home where I compare with photos, the book definitely wins.
Interesting, but my mileage definitely differs. I just did a quick comparison between the app and the big Sibley, and the former won hands down even though the cards were stacked against it since the paper Sibley was the latest edition and the app as we know is based on an earlier version. I wonder if the difference between our experiences isn't platform-dependent? I used a full-size latest-model iPad Pro which provided a clear, sharp, detailed image easily the equal of the printed version and, of course, much bigger.

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Old Tuesday 22nd August 2017, 13:08   #12
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Could be, my biggest device is an ipad mini, and I only recently switched to the latest version in that size from the original mini. Most of the time, I view the app on the iphone.

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Old Thursday 24th August 2017, 13:15   #13
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I have the Sibley app on my phone and typically that is all I use if I am going someplace where the majority of birds are familiar to me, like local patch birding.
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Old Saturday 26th August 2017, 20:34   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicola Main View Post
Hi there. Hoping some of you from across the pond may be able to help me with what would be the best book for a budding learner to North American birds? Don't mind either illustrations or photos as long as there's good information about each bird and it's easy to use (would prefer Eastern regions to Western regions if I had to choose).
Much depends on the inclinations of that budding learner. If immersed & comfortable in the digital world. I have no doubt you'll find the guidance now being offered in this thread instructive. If of a more conventional bent, I'd think that you would look to balance useful species counts with portability in the field. I happen to prefer ready comparison of confusion species, and I find Sibley's guides less well-designed for that purpose. Of course, same-page comparisons aren't always possible, but at least more likely in NG, Peterson or Kaufman. Beginners with modest expectations could even glean some useful guidance from the Golden Field Guides Birds of North America (though expect a much less contemporaneous taxonomy).

And if captivated by our warblers (& maddened by the associated ID challenges), consider The Warbler Guide by Stephenson & Whittle.

Gary H
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