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The Sibley Field Guide
to Birds of Western
North America

Sibley WestWritten and illustrated by David Allen Sibley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. Flexi, 7-3/4 x 4-3/4 in. , 472 pages, 1 lbs. 5 oz.

From his 2000 The Sibley Guide to Birds, the author made an Eastern and a Western selection to create these more pocketable volumes. A few of the illustrations are somewhat reduced in size, and judicious page layouts have further shrunk the books' size.

In certain ways this Western field guide improves on the original. It retains the artistry and uncluttered feeling, while including a new paragraph for each species to discuss abundance, habitat, and diet. Maps have been updated and further refined. There’s also, in addition to the normal index, a handy Quick Index on the last two-page spread for speedy access into the book.

David Sibley has done something wonderful here, for while all his pictures are rich in information, each one is also a work of art. Each account includes a good-sized map of where the bird is found in all seasons and a detailed description of its songs and calls.

And while most field guides show birds only in profile, this book shows, in addition, many birds perched nearly head-on to the viewer, especially sparrows and other small birds that we often see from that position.

In brief: Compact. This one covers the western half of North America. Painted illustrations. This is Sibley improved and made portable.

TIP: If you like, this book, you might also enjoy Sibley's Birding Basics.

--Diane Porter

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