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How accurate are the Sibley Guide 1st Edition maps?

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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:09   #1
bruce_bird_watcher
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Question How accurate are the Sibley Guide 1st Edition maps?

Hi all,
I got my love of birds from my late grandfather, Bruce, and recently I dug up his 1st edition copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds. I've been getting all my information of identifying local birds from that, but seeing as the guide was first published 20 years ago I can't help but have my doubts if the maps may have become outdated in the last two decades? I know it's not all inaccurate as I still see American Robins, American Crows, Mourning Doves, Ring-necked Pheasants, and Black-capped Chickadees around often. However, the area map for Rock Doves shows that they can be found across my state year round, but I don't recall ever seeing even one. As another example, according to the guide, not a single Hummingbird can be found in my state, but I know I saw Hummingbirds locally back when my grandmother still had the Hummingbird feeder set out. I guess a simple solution to my conundrum would just be to purchase a copy of the 2nd edition of the guide but I'm not confident in the efficiency of it being shipped to me due to the current situation. Can anyone give me an update as to the reliability of the area maps? It's a fifth printing if that helps.
Thanks!
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:21   #2
KC Foggin
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Hi Bruce and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum

Cornell Birding on the internet can give you some up to date ranges for any bird you come across or to compare to the range guide that you have.

We're glad you found us and please join in wherever you like
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:24   #3
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Here's a link to the Cornell lab:

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:27   #4
bruce_bird_watcher
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC Foggin View Post
Here's a link to the Cornell lab:

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/
Thank you!
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:29   #5
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You are quite welcome and don't be afraid to ask any questions you may have
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2020, 20:40   #6
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One point to remember, the maps are very small scale, so shows species occurring very widely, when they are actually restricted to scattered pockets of suitable habitat within that general range. Take Rock Dove for example - if you really want to see some, just go to your nearest city and look in city centre parks and around shopping malls - anywhere that people might dump unwanted food.
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Old Friday 3rd July 2020, 17:01   #7
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Within the link provided by KC you can click Ebird and thereafter explore and then species maps to get the representation I like the best. Direct link: https://ebird.org/map

Niels
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Old Wednesday 8th July 2020, 10:42   #8
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I like the whole suite of "tools" from Cornell.

All About Birds

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/

From All About Birds, if you click on Bird id, it will take you to the online Merlin tool. There is a phone app available for Merlin.

BirdNET

https://birdnet.cornell.edu/ There is a BirdNET phone app available as well.

BirdNET will let you record calls, etc. and, if you want, submit them to the system for identification suggestions.
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Old Wednesday 8th July 2020, 12:48   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruce_bird_watcher View Post
However, the area map for Rock Doves shows that they can be found across my state year round, but I don't recall ever seeing even one. As another example, according to the guide, not a single Hummingbird can be found in my state, but I know I saw Hummingbirds locally back when my grandmother still had the Hummingbird feeder set out.
Hi,

Actually, both of your examples of purported inaccuracies are not correct. My first edition of Sibley shows that Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a regular migrant through eastern South Dakota. (It uses yellow shading, which can be hard to see, to indicate migratory range). Moreover, if you look at eBird, you will see that birders have reported seeing Rock Pigeon (feral pigeon) throughout the state; though of course that does not mean they are seen in every habitat.

Range maps are always approximations, so none will ever be precisely accurate. But I'm not aware of any particular inaccuracies in the first edition Sibley maps. I'm sure there are a few, e.g. where ranges have changed, but I believe the maps are mostly accurate.

Best,
Jim
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