Okay, so I’m on a limited budget…I have a couple books on birds and know I want to enlarge my library. I think another ‘general’ field guide to birds I’m apt to see might be a good idea. While I’m interested in all birds…I doubt I’m going to be heading to exotic countries where I might have trouble identifying those I see. Right now, I am specifically interested in the birds in my world. I ‘get it’ that Sibley is today’s bird bible…and agree; I find mine invaluable, but I appreciate different points of view and think another good field guide is a good idea.
Field Guides: which of those on birds do you find give you the most and most valuable information? I own:
- The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
I like this book…and its size. I understand his guide to birds includes both East and West…but is bulkier to carry around. Still, some birds found here are only found in the ‘Eastern’ book… Having said this, I enjoy the bits of superfluous information he offers, as well as pointers on field markers and coloration of immature birds and behavior in habitat, etc.
- A National Geographic Field Manual (Probably for Western America)…but it is in a box in the ton of books in my garage...I'm trying to get my house remodeled.
While I don’t have the book in my hands, I can say it is a more difficult book to hold in my hands than is the Sibley book I own. Also…it is arranged by color, of all things; not unlike their book on Wildflowers. This is both a good and a bad thing, in my mind. I find I learn more reading of several birds in a species…
I am considering:
- The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley
- Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Ted Floyd
- A Field Guide to Western Birds: A Completely New Guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guides (R)) by Roger Tory Peterson and Virginia Marie Peterson
I am also interested in specific families of birds; hummingbirds; birds of prey, including the Shrikes; and the corvids. I’m betting this is pretty typical of new birders and it’s likely my list of favorites will grow; but in the meantime…what books on specific groups of birds have you found to be absolutely stunning in their depth of information and presentation? Somewhere I have:
- An older, small, paperback book on Hummingbirds which I wish I had in my hands right now! I’d like to get books on specific groups I find especially interesting. I tend to haunt Amazon’s ‘Used’ books…so the book needn’t be new to suggest; I might still find it.
How about books or CDs on birdsound? I am interested in learning to identify birds I hear; any especially good choices? The idea of an I-Pod loaded with hundreds of bird-sounds absolutely appeals to me…especially in that a photo can be included for each. Course, I just discovered I can have Wikipedia on my cell-phone (for a subscription fee); an addictive morsel for one who likes information. Right now learning bird calls is high on my list of things to do… but there is a plethora of choices. Have you favorites? So far I have:
- Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song by Les Beletsky and Jon L. Dunn
A fun ‘coffee-table’ sort of book…page number references recording number’; the bird-calls seem spot-on, but oddly the book is arranged by habitat. Perhaps that is a good thing for some folks, but I find it difficult to use as ‘reference’. I was concerned the batteries might wear out and not be available to swap, but I was wrong; and it’s still going strong. My backyard birds think I’m a weird duck…but perhaps my neighbors do too!
Do you have favorite books on specific hobies that involve birds? Sketching, painting, photographing, carving birds? I’d like to hear your favorites here, too. I am considering:
- Art of Bird Photography: The Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques (Practial Photography Books) by Arthur Morris
I hear it is pricey but well worth the cost (over $75, used!!!)
What about books on how to care for or attract birds; any favorites here? Again…not so interested in which you have, but which you found to be the best! I’m a gardener with a new yard…it’s a work in progress, so I’ll find all manner of book interesting. So far, I have:
- The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher: Birdfeeders and Bird Gardens by Robert Burton and Stephen Kress
Unfortunately all three of these books are in boxes while I work on my home; lordy I miss my books!!!
- Attracting Birds to Your Backyard: 536 Ways to Create a Haven for Your Favorite Birds (A Rodale Organic Gardening Book) by Sally Roth
Personally, I think nearly anything by Rodale is a good deal
- Stokes Bird Gardening Book: The Complete Guide to Creating a Bird-Friendly Habitat in Your Backyard (Stokes Backyard Nature Books.) by Donald Stokes and Lillian
Again, perhaps it is because I garden that I found the habitat-part of the book to be a little on the thin side, but I did enjoy reading which birds were especially attracted to which kinds of plants and flowers.
Just because I find Julie Zickerfoose (blog, articles, etc) so fascinating, I’m also considering:
- Natural Gardening for Birds: Simple Ways to Create a Bird Haven (Rodale Organic Gardening Book) by Julie Zickefoose and Bird Watcher's Digest Staff
I may have already grown beyond this book however; I’ve got shelves of gardening books and have read so much already.
- Private Lives of Garden Birds by Calvin Simonds, Julie Zickefoose, and Scott Shalaway
This one looks to contain the same sorts of gems that her husband Bill’s book (below) does!
Books for newbies or for specific challenges. I’ve found two that I totally enjoy and heartily recommend to anybody just starting out. Heck, Thompson’s book is probably great for any casual birder; there’s a lot of good information and advice in there:
- Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges by Bill Thompson III, Julie Zickefoose
Invaluable; tidbits of information on how to tell certain flycatchers apart, specific fieldmarks for determining similar birds when size is impossible to figure (like Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers) and so on. Really great book; I just wish he’d tackle another 50 birds! LOL
- Finding Your Wings: A Workbook for Beginning Bird Watchers (Peterson Field Guides (R)) by Burton S. Guttman
I have recommended this book to several beginning and casual birders; to the one they have enjoyed it every bit as much as I did. This book really does show you how to see birds.
I sincerely hope you leave your suggestions (click the word COMMENTS, below)…so that we can all find several books we might enjoy...and why. Thanks!!!