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A good Texas bird guide? (1 Viewer)

Tired

Well-known member
United States
I'm not sure of the best place to put this thread. Would appreciate it being moved if it would fit better somewhere else.

I'm looking for a bird guide, so I can start to figure out what everything I don't recognize is. I'd like something with a lot of species coverage, not just the most common birds, if possible. I'd like it to be organized in a way that helps me pick birds out, so either sorted by color or by general shape + size of bird. It would be ideal if it had male and female versions of birds with significant sexual dimorphism, or at least a reasonable description of alternate plumage.

Can anyone recommend a good, reasonably up-to-date guide with a lot of species in it? I'm looking at a few different options. I like the looks of this one, https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/a-fie...eterson/401412/#edition=2152519&idiq=15412626, but it's a couple decades old by now. I'm not sure how much of a drawback that is. Surely something has moved in or out of the state since this was published.
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
A comprehensive one would be Sibley’s Guide to birds. Texas is so big that the Sibley’s eastern or western won’t cover the entire state. You could also try:
https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Texas-Field-Identification-Guides/dp/1647550629/ref=sr_1_8?crid=30OSGX1R8K0OJ&dchild=1&keywords=sibley+s+guide&qid=1611940835&sprefix=Sibley’s+%2Caps%2C324&sr=8-8
 

stuartelsom

Well-known member
Another vote to add to Lisa's for David Sibley's North American Bird Guide. The illustrations are accurate and excellent, depicting jizz and plumage features superbly, and the text very succinct. It is certainly the guide I carried with me on the 16 spring trips I led to Texas, and latterly used as app on my iPhone.

Stu
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
Alright, I went ahead and got the Sibley. It looks really nice in the online images, and I suppose there's no harm in having more birds than I'm likely to see in this state. It also has good reviews online, aside from some evident issues with a first printing.
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Alright, I went ahead and got the Sibley. It looks really nice in the online images, and I suppose there's no harm in having more birds than I'm likely to see in this state. It also has good reviews online, aside from some evident issues with a first printing.
I really don’t think you can go wrong with the Sibley’s.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
It looks like the only potential downside is that it's relatively large and heavy, by necessity. Fine by me, it can stay in the car. I need something to identify photos, and photos have this nice trait of not tending to fly away.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
If you need both eastern and western Sibley, it might not be a bad idea to get both separately rather than just the full version. The eastern and western are small enough that you can carry them into the field, you can't do that with the full guide.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I agree that Sibley is the best all around guide in the US, it should serve you well. If you want help ID’ing photos, have a look at the Merlin app for your phone. It is not perfect but ever improving I do think you learn more by ID’ing birds yourself, but it can be nice to have tools to check or to give you suggestions for difficult birds.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
The Sibley came in today. It's very nice. The range maps are easy to read, similar-looking birds are placed right next to each other for easy comparison, and multiple different feather states of each bird are shown. The book is very thorough, including birds with range descriptions like "Very rare visitor from Mexico to southern Texas, recorded only a few times", and also includes a number of birds that are seen as escaped pets.

It's heavy, though. And I don't know that just an Eastern or Western guide would work for me, I'm just about in the middle of that area. I probably have birds that are featured in one book, but not the other.

Some of the larger sections have a page or two like this before them, where one of each bird is pictured.
1612197017114.png

Then the pages are set up like this.
1612197187773.png

In short, if anyone is on the fence about this book, get it. Unless you want something really lightweight, in which case get this book and also something else.
 

jurek

Well-known member
If you get yourself a Sibley birds app on a smartphone, it is not only light to carry, but you can pick an U.S. state and remove most of the birds not found it Texas.

I have a book, but since I got the app I no longer carry the book in the field. And, Cornell Merlin app is good for a beginner, because you can download photos and see how a bird really 'feels like'. Photos are not as detailed as paintings, but they are better to see the difference in shape, size and 'feel' e.g. between a large flycatcher species and a small one.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
As of right now, I don't have a good pair of binoculars, just a bad pair of binocs and a camera with an 83x zoom. If I get enough of a look at something to ID, it's with the camera, so I usually get a picture of it as well. Which means the book weight doesn't matter, since I can just leave it at home and compare pics and memory later. I don't much like apps for IDs, anyway- valuable tools, but too much scrolling and zooming and fiddling. I find it easier to skim for likely-looking birds when I can flip through pages, and then I have multiple options to compare to each other side-by-side.
 

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