Is the newly released second edition of David Sibley’s bird guide worth the price? I am tempted to say simply “of course,” though honesty compels me to add that I could have limped along for the rest of my life with my battered copy of his first guide. The book’s advertisements boast of 600 new paintings and 111 additional species covered. But I think it’s more important that all the existing illustrations were enlarged and brightened. Such additions as the differences between the heads of Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned hawks are useful to those of us who dwell on minutiae. The most interesting feature (or disturbing one, if you have not read books like Ten Thousand Birds) may be the revised taxonomic order, which splits falcons from hawks and places them near their closer relatives, the parrots, and puts Snow Buntings with waxwings. I find it delightful and informative.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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