what is the best bird field guide

Birding Field Guides(tools used by birders to identify individual species of birds) make accurate identification possible and come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing a field guide from the vast array in the market place can be a daunting task for the beginning birder. Luckily they are not very expensive, usually costing less than $20, so buying more than one is a viable option.

Some things to consider when making a selection are the specific region you will be using the guide, does it include photographs or illustrations, and size.

Some guides limit the included species to ones found only in a specific region or state within the US. If you live in the east and never expect to go to the west coast, maybe you dont need an all inclusive guide for North America. Minimizing the number of species found in a field guide is especially helpful for a beginning birder.

If this is your first field guide, it is best to select one with illustrations instead of photographs. Illustrations allow unique field marks specific to a species to be emphasized. Photographs dont always show or emphasize these field marks due to the lighting or the angle of the subject.

Most folks who will be taking their guide out in the field want them to be small and lightweight. Of course there is a trade off here, the smaller and lighter, the less information in the guide. That rule might not apply for electronic guides on mobile devices, they have the potential to be small, lightweight, and contain in-depth information.

The following are the results from reviewing some of the top Birding Field Guides for North America on the market. All have their individual strengths and weaknesses.

For the Habitat, Foraging and Diet, and Nesting criteria I was looking for information found within the specific species listing, not the group or family introduction pages.

Tabled results for the above criteria can be viewed here: Birding Field Guide Review results – (including iBird Explorer Pro and National Geographics Handheld Birds).

All About Birds is a free resource

Available for everyone, funded by donors like you

American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library Search for species name or keywords

Or Browse Bird Guide by Family or Shape

Need Bird ID Help? Try Merlin

Certain guides restrict the species that are included to those that are unique to a particular area or US state. You might not require a comprehensive guide to North America if you reside in the east and have no plans to visit the west coast. For a beginner birder, it is especially beneficial to reduce the number of species listed in a field guide.

The majority of people who will be using their guides in the field prefer them to be lightweight and compact. Of course, there is a trade-off here; the guide contains less information the smaller and lighter it is. Since electronic guides on mobile devices have the potential to be compact, light, and filled with detailed information, this rule might not apply to them.

Choose a field guide with illustrations rather than photos if this is your first one. Illustrations highlight distinct field marks that are particular to a species. Because of the lighting and subject angle, these field marks are not always visible or emphasized in photographs.

Accurate identification of individual bird species is made possible by Birding Field Guides, which are available in various forms and sizes and are utilized by birders. For the novice birdwatcher, selecting a field guide from the wide selection available in the marketplace can be quite difficult. Fortunately, they are reasonably priced, typically under $20, so purchasing multiples is a feasible choice.

When choosing a guide, some factors to take into account are the particular area you will be using it for, whether or not it includes pictures or illustrations, and its size.

All About Birds Regional Field-Guide Series

This series of slim, pocket-sized guides present information and photos from our All About Birds website for about 200 species in each of seven North American regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, California, and Texas & Oklahoma. They include four ID photos per species, including male, female, breeding, and nonbreeding plumages, updated range maps, and a visual index to quickly get you to the right page. There’s also an in-depth front section on how get started as a new birdwatcher and how to attract birds to your yard.

Folding guides use illustrations and a minimal amount of text on a foldable, laminated sheet to break down bird identification into regional areas. Although there aren’t many species highlighted, these compact, durable guides are weatherproof and portable.

what is the best bird field guide

We have extensive information on over 630 species of birds from the United States in our All About Birds online bird guide, which is a great resource. S. and Canada, including photos, sounds, and videos. You can browse birds by family and shape. Every account includes a comparison section between the featured bird and other species, which aids in identification when species have similar appearances.

For comprehensive scientific information on all 10,900+ birds on Earth, a subscription to Birds of the World is more than worth the modest expense.

what is the best bird field guide

what is the best bird field guide

what is the best bird field guide

Applications are a fantastic tool that you can carry around in your pocket for identifying birds. When out birdwatching, a lot of people like to use an app and keep a good bird identification book at home. In addition to illustrations and pictures, many apps also feature bird calls and melodies. Here are a few apps that we like:

  • An intuitive bird ID wizard is available globally via the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID. After asking you a few questions about the color, size, and location of the bird you are observing, it provides you with a few potential species options. Additionally, Merlin Bird ID can recognize a bird from a picture or even from its sound.
  • Another useful app that covers birds in the United States is the Sibley Guide to Birds. S. and Canada.
  • More than 800 bird species in North America are covered by the Audubon Bird Guide app. With the app, you can share pictures and stay up to date on all the latest bird-related news, including outreach and conservation initiatives.

what is the best bird field guide


What is the difference between Sibley and Peterson bird guide?

The Peterson’s series also include sections highlighted in bold for “Similar species” and “Habitat”, Sibley’s does not include these sections. The Sibley’s series has more varied illustrations of individual species, including many more in-flight illustrations than the Peterson guides provide.

What is the best bird book of North America?

The Field Guide to the Birds of North America is perfectly designed to give birders the most powerful and user-friendly collection of information to carry into the field or wherever they enjoy learning about birds and nature.