Birds Blog Review

Review: Sibley’s Birding Basics

Sibley's Birding Basics is a comprehensive guide for budding birders.


Link to book:

Once Sibley’s Birding Basics is cracked open, the learning begins. Even the inside cover contains some of the most valuable information in identifying birds — head patterns.

The reader is immediate informed of the proper terminology for a bird’s “eyebrow”, “cheek”, “front part of the head”, and any other ways used to describe parts of a bird. Describing birds this way is just fine, but with the proper words, like “supercilium”, “auriculars”, “crown”, and more, birders are able to communicate more effectively with one another by using similar language. (The rest of the anatomical descriptions can be found on page 84.)

Sibley’s Birding Basics is a comprehensive guide for budding birders. To more experienced birders, some of the information might seem obvious, but there is plenty of information still for even the most experienced.

Sibley stresses the importance of patience and experience in this book, and I could not agree more. The more time you clock in the field observing birds, the better the birder you will be and the more likely you will be able to help others identify birds. Birding is a thoughtful practice and patience impacts the experience.

Recently I had some time to kill before an appointment. I noticed a clearing between office buildings and along the highway. I grabbed my binoculars, camera, slipped into my wellies, and proceeded to walk through some unkept grass towards the clearing.

At first I saw a few mallards, the loud squeals of a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) caught my attention, and then I spotted a silent red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on the other side of the clearing. I checked the mudflats to see if a solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) might be around — nothing. Slightly disappointed, I figured that I would work on my BIFs (bird in flight) shots. Well, nobody was flying, hunting, or doing anything particularly interesting.

I became restless. I took a deep breath and committed to my spot. Not more than 2 minutes later, I noticed some movement on mudflats. A shorebird of some sort, with bright yellow legs. Could it be I thought? A greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), in farm country, in mid-October?  Well, it sure was.

Greater yellowlegs. Image Credit: AnimalPerspectives.Com

The most useful sections of this book, for me, were the sections about feathers. Having a good understanding of feather patterns, grouping, tail and wing structure, are incredibly valuable tools when birding. They can easily be taken for granted when utilizing other tools for identifying birds.

Sibley’s Birding Basics was informative, easy to read, thorough, and makes for a great introduction or reference. And remember:


Buy the book here:

Also check out this flash card set. It’s a fun way to sharpen your bird identification skills alone or with others:


(By purchasing items via these links, Animal Perspectives receives a percentage of the purchase via an affiliate program. By purchasing any items within 24-hours of opening these links, Animal Perspectives receives a percentage of the purchase via an affiliate program. This helps keep the website going. Animal Perspectives does not see your purchases and does not track your purchases.)

Don’t forget to follow Animal Perspectives on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Also read…

5 Ways to Enjoy Birds in the Wild

Winter Bird Feeding Part One: Determining Habitat

Quick and Dirty: Steps to Cleaning Your Feeders

Sign up for The Animal Perspectives Monthly:

Is there a particular species of bird that you would like to see featured on our website?

Are you a nature writer/blogger and would like to write a guest blog for AnimalPerspectives.Com, or do a blog exchange?

Maybe you snapped a great photo and have a story you’d like to share with it?

Either way, drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you!