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Best bird guides by region...North America (1 Viewer)

jedigrant

Well-known member
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.
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
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
 
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keskinbo

Well-known member
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*?
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
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 ;)

Niels
 

keskinbo

Well-known member
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.

Pascal
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
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.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
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.
 

gwh68

Member
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?
 

Frenchy

Well-known member
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.
 

dave598

RETIRED OLD GOAT, AS THE OTHER HALF SAYS.
United States
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.
 

dave598

RETIRED OLD GOAT, AS THE OTHER HALF SAYS.
United States
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.
 
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...
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
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.
 

Swissboy

Sempach, Switzerland
Supporter
Switzerland
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.
 
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.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
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.

Niels
 
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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