My Three Favorite Bird Guides

It is time to choose my three favorite bird guides.  Why three?  Because one won’t do and I need to narrow down the dozens I have.

My favorite is “The Big Sibley”, better known as The National Audubon Society Sibley Guide to Birds.  Big and bulky this book has changed the way birders bird much like the great Roger Tory Peterson did in 1934.  The drawings are spectacular and offer tons of different views of birds (even though they are all positioned alike).  Some birds are missing but this is one of those books that EVERY birder should own.  The book might not work as well as a true “field” guide but I’ve used it as one and have not been disappointed.


My second favorite is the one I actually bring on all my hikes, especially when trying to cut down on bulkiness.  This would be the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America.  This guide has pictures instead of drawings but they have excellent detail and the organization of the guide is superb.  It is the easiest field guide to use and fits nicely in a good-sized pocket.  Another great thing about Kaufman’s book is that it is also available in Spanish, a first and only thus far.


My third favorite bird guide would have to be National Geographic’s Complete Birds of North America.  This book definitely does not qualify as a field guide but is an excellent “bird guide”.  I purchased the special edition book that had a leather cover and try to keep it in pristine condition.  The contents of the book are outstanding.  I believe EVERY SINGLE bird that has EVER been sighted in the U.S. is in this book (minus anything super recent, but including info about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas).  This book will provide any birder with hours and hours of pure joy just thumbing through.  Try to watch your drool!


I literally own countless bird related books and am always looking for more.  I have even begun to collect old-school bird guides including an attempt to get every printing of Peterson’s Field Guides.  The American Bird Conservancy has a guide as to the Stokes plus there are numerous state specific guides.  These are just my favorite three.

2 thoughts on “My Three Favorite Bird Guides

  1. I’ll probably need to purchase a new Sibley soon. The one I have is getting well worn. Plus, I want to get Sibley to autograph a copy and then keep it in pristine condition.

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