Best ornithology books according to redditors
We found 74 Reddit comments discussing the best ornithology books. We ranked the 33 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.
1. The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition (Sibley Guides)
Sibley Guide To Birds, 2nd Ed
2. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior (Sibley Guides)
3. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America)
Includes: New art figures Unique subspecies maps Extensive migration information overlaid on species maps Field-mark labels on all artwork Text updates to include new species Reorganization reflecting taxonomic changes in the bird community Organization, readability and increased page count with a f...
4. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition (Sibley Guides)
The Sibley Guide to Birds has quickly become the new standard of excellence in bird identification guides, covering more than 810 North American birds in amazing detail. Now comes a new portable guide from David Sibley that every birder will want to carry
7. National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition: Now Covering More Than 1,000 Species With the Most-Detailed Information Found in a Single Volume
8. The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)
12. Raptor and human: falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale (Advanced studies on the archaeology and)
13. The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human
14. The Herring Gull's World: A Study of the Social Behaviour of Birds (The New Naturalist)
15. National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America
Ngeo Pocket Gd To Birds
16. Handbook of Bird Biology (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
18. Tracking Desire: A Journey after Swallow-tailed Kites
Used Book in Good Condition
19. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica
Used Book in Good Condition
Hi! How fantastic to hear from a fellow falconer!
There are very interesting runestones with images of highly likely falconry scenes, one in Norway, and several in Sweden, and Gotland. It is sometimes difficult to tell what is falconry, hunting, and what is imagery (myth or power), but more and more research in a very large and international field of historical falconry is bringing more material into the ligth - and piece by piece Nordic falconry history is growing (and more will come). As you wrote and know as a falconer, finding equipment is important to be certain to determin traces of falconry, and they are often either withered away, or simply out of context, making it very difficult to tell, is it falconry or is it ex. a bell from another animal. This is where having a falconry background one can better understand the material and its spesifics, but context is still key. Graves can be a good indicator for finding first of all bird of prey skeletons trained for hunting, their typical prey, and perhaps falconry equipment. At the time through Europe it was a costum for high ranking people, and even their children (even graves of youth in pre-Viking Sweden were buried with raptors) to master falconry, and in some countries there were a penalty if a person below their rank practiced falconry - it was such a noble sport, that learning to master it was a sign of a leader.
In Norway the Gokstad ship burial has two goshawk skeletons, excellent bird for hunting in the Norwegian forest. There is a bell in the Borre grave, but there are discussion about this, if it is falconry. Size wise I think it has a good case, but we need more context to be sure. There are so many referances to high ranking people out enjoying hawking with their hounds in the Viking Age, and kings were called 'veidekonge', hunting kings, they did all kinds of hunting. I am the only falconer in Norway, and I have to travel to do it as it is lost here and not possible. But it is so incredible, that I cannot not do it, especially knowing it is actually a long lost Nordic heritage, and I help uncover traces of it which is simply incredible, and to give it a new voice. I would recommed you have a look at this 4 volume on falconry research, I have an article in here consering Norway, and you can find more about Nordic kings hawking! https://www.amazon.com/Raptor-human-symbolism-throughout-archaeology/dp/3529014907
If you haven’t already bought the bird book I would suggest another. The Audubon ones aren’t well laid out for beginners. I would suggest Sibley or Stokes instead. I’m a bird biologist and I love teaching beginning birders, and these two guides are the easiest.
Asking about ID guides on an ID subreddit seems valid to me!
I'm personally a big fan of the Sibley guides. I think the illustrations provide a lot of detail and clarity and really highlight field marks well. For your area, the Eastern guide is probably what you want, though if you travel frequently or just want a more complete book, there's also a version that covers all of North America.
I also want to mention Merlin, which is a free app from Cornell. It's comprehensive, really good at helping ID unknown birds, provides lists of birds most likely for your location and the time of year, and includes songs as well. It's fantastic and the sort of thing you'd normally expect to pay a good bit of money for.
I have not bought the book, mostly because I am very fond of my own pocket guide but I can never remember the name of it! I used that one as a placeholder. It's very small, thin, and white—truly fits in a pocket. I'm going to try to order the exact one I use but if I can't, I also use this book and find it super easy to access.
You'll probably also want a good inexpensive pair of binoculars. There are pretty good ones in almost every price range, even starting under $100.
Getting your camera to focus through branches on small subjects will be difficult. You'll miss a lot without binocs.
You'll also need to learn the basics of how to use binoculars, if you buy a pair. It's not intuitive. And, that thing they do on TV and in movies is just plain wrong. When the eyepieces are the right distance apart, the images come together, you see a single circle.
P.S. You should also get a bird book to identify the birds you see. I like paper over phone apps personally, though I have both for North America. My personal recommendation is the Nat Geo book.
Whenever I hear about an out of print book on birds, I immediately think “Handbook of bird biology” from Cornell University. They do an online class with it, and at one point it was out of print and HIGHLY sought after. There were copies online going for several thousand dollars.
Third edition came out a couple years ago: https://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Bird-Biology-Cornell-Ornithology-dp-1118291050/dp/1118291050/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&amp;me=&amp;qid=1555064840
It is a cedar waxwing. And here is a link to a good bird feild guide fo your future shots.
Swallow-tailed Kites. They have their seasonal grounds in Florida, and there's an entire memoir written about them.
I haven't seen most of those either, but would love too. Cool looking birds for sure. I did see an Oriole this summer which was pretty exciting (not nearly as much for the people I was with lol). I've never seen the black-capped Kingfisher, but the ruddy kingfisher that lives in the bamboo forest near our house has been back three years in a row. And I see common kingfishers out on the lake while I'm fishing all the time. Common Kingfishers should be in that album...they're pretty exotic looking!
Here is the English field guide for Korea if anyone is interested. I got mine directly through Birds Korea for quite a bit cheaper, but I don't see it on their site anymore. I think I paid 30,000 a couple of years ago when it came out.
I think the best way to learn about birds is to actually watch them, so I'd recommend finding your nearest nature sanctuary to see if they have birdwatching walks/classes. If you're in North America, the Audubon Society is a great organization that runs bird sanctuaries and teaches people about birds. There are similar organizations in other regions - you'll just need to do a little online searching. There are also loads of books to help you get started, like this one.
You can also learn a lot about birds online. Cornell University provides online ornithology courses, but they also provide tons of free info about North American birds and their nests, global bird sightings, and more.
I started learning about birds by reading books, and there are plenty of great options. Visit your local library to see what they have. Books cover everything from identification to intelligence to falconry.
What kinds of birds are you particularly interested in? Is there any aspect of birds that you find most fascinating, like anatomy, flight, song, color...?
[The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior] (https://www.amazon.com/Sibley-Guide-Bird-Life-Behavior/dp/1400043867)
I am not sure how this has not been recommended yet! It is one of the best IMO.
Sibley's is probably the most popular ID guide, and it's the one I use. A popular alternative is the National Geographic guide.
Here is a fairly comprehensive review of 100+ brands of binoculars across many price ranges. It is a few years old now, but I haven't come across any better guides since then.
There are more things that you can buy later, but those two things are enough to get started. The main thing I would recommend would be to find a local group (e.g. Audubon club or other naturalist/birdwatching group) to go on birdwatching trips with. She will learn far more from experienced birders than from a book, especially at the beginning.
The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker is a fascinating read.
well those two things are pretty much what I used 😅
I busted out this 750 page monstrosity, found a decent match, and then compared it to sightings on eBird for Pichincha Province, where Mindo is. Luckily Mindo (and Ecuador in general) is pretty well covered by eBird, and Buff-tailed Coronet is pretty common in the area.
The new Sibley guide is my favorite, hands-down.
Some also like the Nat Geo guide (6th edition) - great range maps, broken down by subspecies where relevant! - but the artwork is less consistently good, in my opinion.
Sibley's illustrations are clean, easy to navigate, intelligently laid out for maximum ease of comparison, and (frankly) beautiful. The second edition (=new) also has added life history information for many species.
I own both, but whenever prompted to recommend only one, it will always be Sibley. The first edition played a huge role in me getting into birding. :)
^(edit: fixed grammatical error)
This is r/Biology, so it's not surprising that many here are critical of this chart. The scale is nonexistent. There's no discussion of behavior (vital to ID). It's representative of a medium selection of mostly North American birds. Most glaringly (for birders), it fails to note that most of these birds have multiple different color morphs for different ages, seasons, and genders. My favorite raptor book has like 8 pages of pics of different color morphs for Red Tails.
Still, this is cool. It's a neat way to look at wing and tail shapes, which are probably more helpful than color for identification. They're mostly good pictures. It's pretty. Nice work OP, thanks for sharing.
I got this book last year and it’s absolutely phenomenal. It shows both female and male colors, breeding and non-breeding seasons, as well as flight patterns for that bird and maps during the different seasons as well.
The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior is a good starting place. It's not as technical as the more academic textbooks, but is much more detailed than some of the other recommendations.
I highly, highly recommend David Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. It gives you a tremendous range of information about what are essentially ornithological subfields (evolution, migration, nesting, etc.), but written in a bright and accessible way. Plus with lots of Sibley's lovely illustration!
I might add that although it uses (mostly) North American birds as examples, the general information and insights will be true for all birders everywhere.
If both you and your girlfriend like watching birds in your area, i suggest buying a bird book to encourage your interests. It's a lifelong hobby that only gets more interesting as time passes. I'm sure others will have their own favorite, but my suggestion is:
National Geographic Birds of North America
This book is pretty good.
I went to Costa Rica to bird in 2005, when the Stiles and Skutch book was the only book in town.
The Stiles and Skutch book is very detailed and informative....but it lacks maps, it's bulky, and you won't want to carry it with you in the field every day. However, taking that book with me did teach me to take very good notes (so I could ID birds I wasn't sure about back at the hostel each night).
The newer book (with the toucanet on the cover) is more manageable in the field, and it includes maps. It also has more up-to-date taxonomy.
This was the only book required for the course. The lab is all memorizing birds and their scientific names, ID-ing them from specimens, and field outings to view them. The actual lecture part is mostly anatomy so far. I think we'll get into behavior as well, but it's all pretty in depth.
I would always reccommend an actual field guide over an app, they are just more useful, but apps can be a good complement. For field guides, Sibley just came out with his new guide, which is probably the best one you can get.
You could also try National Geographic or Peterson's Guides, they are good. Kaufman has a really good guide that is geared more towards beginners, but has as much info as a full-sized guide.
As for Apps, there is Sibley, National Geographic, Peterson's, and iBird PRO, all of which are decent and have bird songs on them, which is probably the best feature. Its mostly personal preference between these.
Maybe the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior?
We recently bought
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition
National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition: Now Covering More Than 1,000 Species With the Most-Detailed Information Found in a Single Volume
Off Amazon and I LOVE them! We opted for a Non-Amazon seller and we paid less than $5 each WITH shipping. I am very impressed with the layout, I have found it a pretty fast flip to find a species while looking at it.
I just read “Tenth Legion” by Col Tom Kelly. From what I understand, it is considered to be The essential turkey book. It’s also very funny and enjoyable. I bought it from the authors website and he sent it to me autographed with a turkey feather inside the cover.
The other one I was looking at was Turkey Hunting A one man Game, haven’t read it though. There are a few turkey books on Amazon.
If you are going to pick one though go with Tenth Legion
Get yourself a field guide and browse it every time you're bored or taking a shit. My favorite is Stokes for a decent sized (portable) book, or Crossley if you don't mind lugging around a big one. These have pictures as opposed to paintings, which I think is way better. These are both assuming you're in the US. Pay attention to the ranges so you can focus on the birds that are in your area. As cool as a Vermillion Flycatcher is, you're never going to see it if you don't live near in or near Mexico or South America. Just browse through and find the cool ones, the interesting ones, etc. It'll help a ton if you've already seen the birds and their names before you run into them in the wild.
When you're in the field, either bring your book, or get the Merlin app. It's pretty great for new birders.
As far as calls go, that's not as easy. Some are, but depending on where you are, they can get difficult. The worst part is that you can't look up how a bird sounds in a book, so once you hear it, you have to try to remember it and just browse through bird calls online or in an app until you think you find it. I think it'd help to find mnemonics to remember the calls. That helped me early on. If you just hear a Black-capped Chickadee recording, it'll help, but if you also remember the call as "Cheese-bur-ger" or "Chicka-dee-dee-dee", it's gonna be a lot easier.
There are apps to practice learning calls, but I think it's better to actually hear them. And definitely don't go out thinking you're gonna be able to ID everything. It can be infuriating when you hear something that sounds familiar but you just can't put your finger on it and you can't find the call anywhere. A lot of birds make many different sounds. If you hear a short, sharp, high pitched squeak, it could be a million different things. It might not even be a bird. Sometimes you just gotta let it go.
I would get her This book. IMO its the essential book to have on birds.
Some solids in my life:
The enormous "fingers" are a useful clue for identifying eagles. I like this book for learning my raptors https://www.amazon.com/Hawks-Distance-Identification-Migrant-Raptors/dp/0691135592
I'd recommend picking up a good field guide and just having fun trying to identify the birds you see around your area. The variety presented in a field guide will seem daunting at first, but it'll quickly become easier as you familiarize yourself with the common families and learn to narrow down the possibilities by range, habitat, behavior, etc. The two major fields guides are by Pizzey & Knight and Simpson & Day. The Pizzey & Knight served me well a few years ago when I was down under. As for a general interest guide, I can only recommend this one, but it's North America-centric. I don't know if there's a good counterpart for Australasia. An excellent way to learn more is to join field trips organized by your local bird club. Plenty of birders would be happy to show you the ropes. If you want to get serious about the hobby, you'd also want to get yourself a good pair of binoculars. Australia's a really fun place to go birdwatching because of its unique and exotic bird life. You're gonna have lots of fun, so get out there and look at some birds!
For field guides the more generalized ones are usually easier to get a hold of. A few you could look at are from National Geographic, Peterson, and Sibley. There are also some books for getting started, such as Sibley's Birding Basics. Backyard Bird guides are also a good place to start.
For North Dakota specifically I found this great pdf that covers all the basics of bird watching, and this field guide. Hope this helps!
Well, one of the classics is The Herring Gull's World by Niko Tinbergen.
I've heard good things of Gifts of the Crow but never read it.
Migrating Raptors of the World is a fantastic book that everyone should read, and I am totally not biased by knowing the author. It's a little more ornithological than the other two, which are intended for the intelligent general public. It's an excellent synthesis of all the relevant research, and both easy to read and written at a fairly high level.
Naw fam, you ain't serious about it til you hauling round the Crossley ID Guide.
Any new world sparrow (House Sparrow are old world sparrow, introduced in the 1800s)! Most common backyard ones are White-Throated, White-Crowned, Eastern Towhee, and Dark-Eyed Junco. I'd recommend investing in an ID guide, as those little brown birds are one of the best ways to get your life species count up quick. Sibley's Field Guide to Eastern Birds is what I use, and what I recommend at my birding tours that I lead.
That's awesome that you're getting into birding! Some great resources are Merlin Bird ID, eBird, and Audubon's Bird app. A goood paper resource is Sibley's. Good luck and patience is a virtue!
If they like to read, a good long book would be nice.
Or maybe a bird guide, even if they are not into ornithology it can be fun to try and identify all the exotic birds they’ll see.
This is the best one
Also maybe a good pair of headphones
Digging around elsewhere, I found this thread on oldgobbler.com; outside of Tenth Legion, books lots of people there are recommending:
Haven't read any of these, but picking up One Man Game now.
You might also want to try out the Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell for iOS/Android. It asks you 5 fairly simple questions (location, date, size of bird, color of bird, behavior of bird) and then gives you a list of possible birds based on ebird activity in that area during that time. It's very helpful when you first start out and you don't even know broadly what type of bird you are looking at.
As you become more knowledgable then a good field guide becomes invaluable, and I'll second pallum's suggestion of Sibley's Guide to Birds, Second Edition.
Mimus polyglottos or Mockingbird
third post on amazon?
I'm into Ornithology and go birding on a regular basis. I don't know what book I read it in, but rear neck feathers are riiight next to the feathers on it's head, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the wiki article is referring to. If I had to guess, I would say Birds Do It, Too, though it may have been mentioned off-hand in The Sibley Guide to Birds.
A little broader focused than GTA specifically, but The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America is a really good starter field guide (Peterson and National Geograpic are two others).
And, if your mom is a reader I'd also suggest Kyo Maclear's Birds Art Life which is the story about a Toronto author discovering birds in the area while she deals with her dying father.
^That's ^why ^I'm ^here, ^I ^don't ^judge ^you. ^PM ^/u/xl0 ^if ^I'm ^causing ^any ^trouble. ^WUT?
This one is basically the bible if you fall into its range
I think this is the most recent single-volume book. There's a two book set as well, but that seems impractical
Is this the edition that includes both the Eastern and Western books?
The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition https://www.amazon.com/dp/030795790X/ref=cm_sw_r_other_awd_OM1FwbF8J92QN