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Sibley's Birding Basics [Kindle Edition]

David Allen Sibley

Kindle Price: £10.09 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

“I wrote and illustrated this book to help every inquisitive birder, from novice to expert. Whether you can identify six birds or six hundred, you’ll be a better birder if you have a grounding in the real nuts and bolts of what birds look like, and your skills will be even sharper if you know exactly what to look for and how to record what you see.” —David Allen Sibley

The Sibley Guide to Birds
and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior are both universally acclaimed as the new standard source of species information. And now David Sibley, America’s premier birder and best-known bird artist, takes a new direction; in Sibley’s Birding Basics he is concerned not so much with species as with the general characteristics that influence the appearance of all birds and thus give us the clues to their identity.
To create this guide, David Sibley thought through all the skills that enable him to identify a bird in the few instants it is visible to him. Now he shares that information, integrating an explanation of the identification process with many painted and drawn images of details (such as a feather) or concepts.

Birding Basics begins by reviewing how one can get started as a birder: the equipment necessary, where and when to go birding, and perhaps most important, the essential things to look for when birds appear in the field. Using many illustrations, David Sibley reviews all the basic concepts of bird identification and then describes the variations (of shape, size, and color) that can change the appearance of a bird over time or in different settings. And he issues a warning about “illusions and other pitfalls”—and advice on avoiding them.

The second part of the book, also plentifully illustrated, deals with another set of clues, the major aspects of avian life that differ from species to species: feathers (color, arrangement, shape, molt), behavior and habitat, and sounds.

This scientifically precise, beautifully illustrated volume distills the essence of David Sibley’s own experience and skills, providing a solid introduction to “naming” the birds. With Sibley as your guide, when you learn how to interpret what the feathers, the anatomical structure, the sounds of a bird tell you—when you know the clues that show you why there’s no such thing as “just a duck”—birding will be more fun, and more meaningful. An essential addition to the Sibley shelf!

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7334 KB
  • Print Length: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (18 Dec. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001O1O7EO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #732,338 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
183 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibley's best work to date - best book for building ID skill 22 Oct. 2002
By Jeffrey J. Jones - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading SIBLEY'S Birding Basics. I was impressed enough with it that I thought I would write a short review.

In the past, when friends/acquaintances have asked what books I would recommend in order to improve their birding skills - not a field guide - I would recommend either Birding for Beginners; Sheila Buff or The Complete Birder; Jack Connor. In addition, I would always recommend getting The Basics of Bird Identification (Bird Topography) - A Birders Journal Publication. This is because neither of the two previous texts dedicated sufficient, if any, time on understanding bird topography. Reading the latter text was a big breakthrough for me in bird identification. I believe it is absolutely essential if you want to start nailing the tough field identifications. It gives you an understanding and takes you to another level of bird identification that you are just not going to get outside of bird-in-hand, detailed examination experience.

I have both of Sibley's previously published texts - he has been quite voluminous lately - The SIBLEY GUIDE to Bird Life & Behavior and The SIBLEY Guide to Birds. While I have mixed emotions about the goals of each of these texts and Sibley's success in accomplishing them, I can argue that they are very worthwhile books and any avid birder should probably count them among their personal library.

This brings us to Sibley's latest text, the topic of this CoBirds post. I have been birding all my life; more seriously for about the past 10 years or so - thanks to Walt and Alan V.
So you might say, "why read a 'birding basics' book?" There are two answers:
1) I am an incurable book hound, and digest most all books I can get my hands on in my areas of interest, and
2) I believe there is always more to learn.
Now some books fall short on the promise of #2. I will start reading it, then just skim it, and then finally just put it on my shelf after it has sat on my nightstand without being touched for the requisite amount of time. This latest book from Sibley was not one of those. I believe this is his best work yet. And compared to those large tomes of his two previous publications, it comes in a small paperback book only 155 pages long.

I believe this book has something to offer for beginner to expert. I picked up at least one new piece of information in every section, and sometimes, many more. In addition, he devotes a great deal of time to bird topography. So this new book has everything that I used to recommend two books for, rolled into one. It is extremely readable; has a natural progression of topics; and many illustrations that help to drive home advanced topics.

If you are considering a book to enhance your birding identification skills, all of the books that I mentioned in the second paragraph above are very worthwhile, but I believe that Sibley's new book has just taken first place in my recommendation list.
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book to get before the others 12 Nov. 2002
By Elizabeth Rosenthal - Published on
I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by David Allen Sibley at the Princeton University Bookstore a couple of weeks ago. He's a shy person, but once he starts talking about his favorite subject (birds, of course), he's as talkative as the most garrulous of people. Even in person, then, his knowledge of all minutiae of the avian world is staggering. That doesn't mean he doesn't understand the common pitfalls of the struggling, novice birder who wants so much to identify that giant bird with the colors of a goldfinch or the raptor as small as a songbird. He told us a couple of amusing stories about bird misidentification, one of which involved a mistake he made years ago... which just goes to show that if Mr. Sibley can make a birding mistake, there's hope for the rest of us.
Anyway, "Sibley's Birding Basics" does, indeed, serve as the introduction to his bestselling field guide that he'd originally hoped to include in the field guide. He covers all the essential bird identification topics in a clearly, if scholarly, written manner, from the importance, structure and groupings of feathers; to the bird's outer anatomy; to birdsong; to clues to bird identification (behavior, molt patterns, feather wear-and-tear) that aren't covered at all in other field guides. And the illustrations, a talent for which Mr. Sibley is justifiably famous, are the most meticulous you'll find anywhere, whether the drawing shows a comparison between a summer tanager and a northern cardinal or simply of feather types.
Finally, "Birding Basics" includes a brief but to-the-point admonition to birders who might venture too close or too noisily to the objects of their fascination. For example, you read about the usefulness of "pishing" in other books and hear about it from other expert birders, but Mr. Sibley believes this technique is overused and has the potential to harm many birds' ability to go about their difficult daily existence.
In conclusion, run, don't walk, to the nearest computer and order this book from!
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book I wished I started with - Highly recommended 4 Nov. 2002
By John C. Dunbar - Published on
This is the book that I wished I had when I started bird watching. This book explains the strategies you should use to identify birds. When you go out birding you will often (nearly always?) not see the bird clearly, or long enough to make a perfect call. This book addresses that problem. I have never seen it addressed so well.
All of the three recent Sibley books are just first rate. I recommend starting with this one on identification, then getting his general guide one, then the one that talks about their behavior. I really liked the behavior one also. Its great to research out a bird that you are watching to find out more about how they act.
The illustrations in all of his books are first rate. I have a lot of bird books and found that Sibley's are the best of those I bought.
John Dunbar
Sugar Land, TX
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to nany aspects of birding 23 Feb. 2003
By J. J. Kwashnak - Published on
I came into this book with some interest in learning to identify birds around the yard to a greater extent. This is the first book that I've seen to go beyond the basics of shape and color. It's actually a virtual biology lesson on birds with fine details about feathers, and molting among other topics. Very detailed materials that help the reader understand how to see the parts of the bird beyond quick impressions in order to make identifications. But I also gained a new insight into an animal that I took for granted just seeing every day. Sibley is an incredible artist and liberally demonstrates his concepts with sketches and drawings of a wide variety of birds. The combination of beautiful art, and clear, educational writing makes one of the best introductions I've ever seen to birds, and how to know and appreciate them. Highly recommended for the casual as well as serious bird enthusiast.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's more to birding than found in the standard Field Guide 30 Oct. 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Almost every field guide gives a an introduction to the skills that need to be learned if one wants to develop any proficiency in finding and identifying birds in the field.In this book David takes it a whole lot further and has produced a book that covers all the skills needed and would be a great asset to any birder,be they a novice or a long time seasoned birder.It is not a book to replace the normal field guide but instead is a super addition to hone the skills of any birder,regardless of their skills.I won't try to cover what is in this book as other reviewers have done a fair job of it already.

What this book does is to explain why a bird was found where it was,why it was not something else,why is it such and such when it only remotely resembles the picture in the field guide,how could you tell,it's too dark to see the colors,and on and on.

You will also learn the many subtle differences and field marks to look for ,especially if you want to try to describe a bird to someone else,write it up in your journal or even to help if you listen to and hope to understand some more experienced birder describing a bird you may even be looking at.

One way to show what this book is all about might be to compare it to Baseball or Bridge.The standard books tell you all the rules and finer points of the game;this book tells you how to play the game.

Don't let the fact that this book has only 154 pages and not very expensive fool you.It is very unique and would

be welcomed by any birder who doesn't already have it.

I must say,however,that this is not the type of 'bird book' to buy if you just want to buy one book.It is definately the book to buy to go along with any other Field Guide that covers all the birds in an area;such as National Geographic's Birds of North America,Peterson's Field Guides,American Bird Conservancy's field guide to All the Birds of North America,Kaufman's Birds of North America,Sibley's Guides or any of the other excellent guides available.
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