After writing about the release of Sibley’s second edition last week, I started to write a post about how many birding books someone really needs, and that got me thinking about how I really use a field guide or any book on bird in particular.
This all really started a few months ago with the release of The Warbler Guide Song and Call Companion by Tom Stephenson. The book came out to great reviews and really looked like a great book to get. I was all set to buy when I started thinking, wait, I have numerous field guides that contain sections on warblers and I even own a specialty book on warblers. What am I going to get out of buying another book on warblers? Well I really don’t know since I haven’t read any of them thoroughly!
That’s right, if I really think about it, I haven’t read and studied any of the books thoroughly. And I bet I am not alone on this. If others are like me they scan the introduction and then read the parts they need when they need them. Like when I am getting ready for migration I scan the parts on vireos and warblers, for example. If I am going on an out of state trip I read about species native to those areas. But to have sat down and read the book from cover to cover like a good novel? Nope, haven’t done it.
And I bet if I took the time to sit and read and study a field guide from cover-to-cover, and I mean really read and study, and then read Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Book Companion the same way, I think it would answer most of the questions I have about birds and birding.
Do I need the specialty books outside the fact I like to read about birds and birding? Probably if I decide to become a gull addict. But outside of that, probably not need, but still want.
So I challenge myself to read my The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America from cover-to-cover. All 431 pages. I will let you know how it goes and what I find out.
How do you read/use a field guide?