TreeBooknewBirdcoverThe Sibley Guides series began with the publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000, and since then has expanded to include four additional books on birds and, in 2009, The Sibley Guide to Trees. This website presents some of my ongoing efforts to identify and understand the birds and trees of North America.

I’ve been watching and drawing nature for most of my life, with a heavy emphasis on birds until about seven years ago. I consider myself a scientific illustrator and the goal of most of my art is to reveal the larger patterns and systems of nature by learning what makes each species different from (and similar to) other species. I hope you’ll join in this pursuit of knowledge and share the pleasure of discovery. There are still so many mysteries to solve and things to discover all around us, and the opportunities for learning never end.

I have written and illustrated a number of books, listed below. Clicking on any title will lead to a page with more information about that book.

Author and illustrator:

The Sibley Guide to Trees, 2009

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, 2003

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 2003

Sibley’s Birding Basics, 2002

The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, 2001

The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2000

The Birds of Cape May, 1993; revised edition in 1997


Bright Wings, 2009

Atlas Of The Breeding Birds Of Nevada, 2007 (cover)

Birds of Denali, 2002

The Wind Masters, 1995

Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors, 1988

The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, 1988

Hawkwatch: A guide for beginners, 1986

Tales of a Low-Rent Birder, 1986


Arctic Wings: Birds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land

and many magazine articles


  1. steve says

    Under the species account for Townsend’s Warbler, the description says “Structure like Black-throated Green…”. What does structure refer? The actual shape of the bird? Or the pattern of the plumage?

    • says

      I use “structure” to refer to all aspects of shape and proportions. So this statement means the both the overall shape and proportions as well as details like bill shape and tail shape are similar to Black-throated Green.

  2. David Tyrer says

    I know that there was some talk, at one time, of publishing your Field Guides in Spanish. Has this actually happened and if so where can I get copies?

    • says

      Yes, there is a chance, but with so many different phone platforms around, as well as iPad and other tablet OS, we have to choose carefully where to invest time and effort. A Blackberry version of the eGuide is currently in beta-testing, and I’m not sure which will be next, or when, but I will announce it here on the website whenever it is decided.

  3. Phyllis Little says

    Have you considered putting bird songs/sounds into your Bird Identification Guides? I have Peterson’s North American Birds CD, but it would be nice to have a guide + songs all in one volume. I do have Music of the Birds by Lang Elliot, which lists only 75 bird sounds.
    I am enjoying your Bird Calendar for 2011, one of many gifts I get with a bird theme!

    Thanks for your guides and your help.

    Phyllis Little

    • says

      Thanks Phyllis, You can get all the content from the book along with audio of songs and calls in the Sibley eGuide for iPhone/iPod, Android, and (soon) Blackberry. There are no plans to publish a CD to accompany the book.

    • says

      I am working on it (truthfully I have been since the day the guide went to the printer). No firm date is set for publishing the revised edition but it will hopefully be in two years or so.

  4. Stevan Hawkins says


    Do you plan on coming out with an update to the “big Sibley” to reflect the 2011 AOU changes? There is an audience out there waiting for that new edition.



    Stevan Hawkins
    San Antonio TX

  5. Cathy Carroll says

    Will you be publishing a new edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds to include changes to taxonomic order, the new splits and the new names of many birds including the warblers?

    Thank you.

  6. Randall Peterson says

    David, Have you ever considered a Field guide where the Birds of North America are arranged in Alphabetical order by Common name rather than grouped together by families? The bird you would be looking for would be a lot faster to find this way rather than having to look it up in the index like I do all the time. Thanks for any reply to this! Randall

    • says

      Hi Randall, Yes, this idea ad others (organizing birds by color, by habitat, by size, etc) have been tried and never really worked. The main drawback, in my opinion, is that it breaks up the natural groupings of families, which you will use more and more as you gain experience in bird ID. That is, if you know that the bird you want to look up is some kind of heron, it makes sense to have all the herons together in the guide, and not under G for Great Egret, S for Snowy Egret, C for Cattle Egret, and so on. In the electronic version of the guide you can choose the arrangement you want, and we currently offer sorting in taxonomic order or alphabetically.

  7. says

    David: I see your replies to Cathy (1/2012) and Steven (12/2011) and wanted to add my voice to those who are looking forward to the new Sibly. And of course, I am hopeful that the smaller guides will be updated as well – with updated maps. I am aware of how hard it is to meet everyone’s expectations (including our own) but allow me to say how much I appreciate the western guide and to affirm that I use it daily and carry it with me “for emergency sightings.”


    Payette, Idaho.

  8. Karen Moore says

    …And I would like to add my voice to John’s (7/2012). I am very excited to hear that there is an updated Guide on the horizon. I love your Guide. I would be lost without it. Thank you so much! Karen

  9. Pat Heirs says


    Over 20 years ago, I got one of your numbered prints of a pair of Pyrrhuloxia pearched on prickly pear cactus. Did you offer other birds in print at that time, and if so, which species? Are any of them still available?

    Also, I too, am anxiously awaiting your next edition of “The Sibley Guide to Birds”. Don’t forget to include the dark morph of the Hook-billed Kite. We just saw one last week at Santa Ana NWR in the LRGV.

    Thank you. Pat

  10. Pamela says

    I am curious whether you might decide to publish birding guides with a focused regional context, such as birds of Canada or Birds of Sierra Nevada, Shorebirds of Western United States, etc.

    Many thanks

    • says

      Hi Pamela, Over the years that idea has come up several times in discussions with my publisher, but we’ve always chosen to focus on the larger regions. It’s possible in the future, but there are no current plans.

  11. Kevin says

    Have you ever thought about making a flashcard app for the iphone out of your bird guide? I know the guide itself is available as an app, but I’m surprised no one has produced a flashcard app of North American birds. It would be an awesome way to learn birds by testing yourself.

  12. says

    Hi David,

    I posted a comment previously that now seems to have disappeared from the site. We have a Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America that has printing errors, including missing pages and many printed out of order. We’d like to request an accurate copy, either through Knopf or as otherwise directed. We’ve not been able to find any mention of the issue or response to our previous inquiries. It is the most current copy, purchased in 2012 through a reputable nature center.

    Thanks very much for your feedback and otherwise excellent products!


    • says

      Hi Bethany, I’ve heard of a couple of other cases of missing pages or out-of-order pages in guides, it happens rarely and you should definitely get a replacement. I’ll send you a private email to work out the details.
      Best, David

  13. Terry Bronson says


    I look forward to the updated versions of your bird guides, as I own them all. I have come across a situation with Pileated Woodpeckers in my yard the last two years. Last year I had two birds with brown primaries instead of black; this year I’ve seen one so far. In checking with Birds of North America Online, I find that this coloring is a characteristic of young birds. I have noticed that no guide in my possession, and I have several, indicates this coloring. Will this be shown in your updated guides, or is this something that your research showed to be so uncommon as to be not worth depicting?

    Thanks much.

    Terry Bronson
    Morgantown, WV

  14. says

    Hi, David:

    Your field guides are one of the best, I can’t wait for your new “Guide to Birds” to come out, please push the publisher to get it out soon! :-)

    Howard Wu

  15. Stephen Paez says

    Hello David,

    I am another fan of your guides and use the Eastern book for here in Miami(though I have purchased all versions). Will there be East-West versions of the new book and how much later will they be published after the full version? Will the layout for the illustrations for the new guide be the same as the 1st Edition? Please include White-eyed Parakeet in your guide, they are now pretty common here.


  16. says

    David: I read my previous post and noted that I misspelled your last name…please forgive me. Now on to the current post. After much effort, I was able to observe a Marsh Wren – not a rare bird by any means but still a thrill for me. It was the posture as depicted in your guide (Western North America) that caught my eye. Then after waiting a bit longer, I was able to get more concrete information by observation – again using your guide. All of that to say, you really have packed alot of information in the small guide. Thanks again.


    • says

      Hi Jim, I’ve thought of it, in fact I did some work on one before I did the Tree Guide, but it would have required too much travel since we have relatively few butterfly species in Massachusetts. I won’t rule it out completely but I have no plans to start work on one – more bird projects in the next few years. Best, David

  17. Al Haury says

    David – Will there be a Sibley’s Birds of North America for Kindle Fire that is similar to the one for the Apple IPhone, etc.?
    Thanks, Al

  18. Richard Treffry says

    David – Are there plans to have a PDF copy of Sibley’s Birds of North America. It could be used on all tablets and PC’s.
    I have a copy of the book which is excellent.
    Thanks Richard

  19. says

    David, as an artist I deeply appreciate your work, continuing the tradition of American naturalist-artists that is perhaps disappearing. Tonight we viewed the Ivory Bill documentary (sorry, I came in the room late and didn’t get the name of the film), and my appreciation for your work increased many fold. A true naturalist-artist must be honest–is more likely, in my opinion, to be honest because of the necessity of concrete observation.
    About a year ago, a guy named Randall raised the question of an alpha listing to save running back to the index. Well, you are right, the groupings must be by families. I have found that when I’m using the Guide regularly I can usually get to the right section instinctively, but I wonder if you have looked at the Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, which has a Quick Reference guide on the inside front and back covers, with page number next to the representative bird of a family or genus? Perhaps this suggestion is too late for your new edition, but when in ZA I find this feature to be very helpful. Then again, going through the book page by page to look for a bird is WONDERFUL: you learn about so many other birds you were not looking for!
    Thanks for many hours of pleasure and information, K.

  20. Stacey Smith says

    Hello David,

    I have been using your Guides for years. Your guide to Eastern North America has been my go to guide in the field. Because of Superstorm Sandy,I have had to use your Android app or resort to other guides,as my Eastern guide was badly water damaged leading to mold damage. Before I went to replace it, I was directed to your website and found you are publishing a new edition. Is it still set for sale in the spring of 2014, and can it be pre-ordered? If so, how and when can I pre-order it? I am most anxious to have the book. Will your Android app be updated at that time, too?

    • says

      Hi Stacey,

      Thanks for asking. The North American guide has been revised and will be on sale in March 2014. You can preorder it from this link at and elsewhere.

      We are working on the app now and hope to have a new version ready for sale also in March at the same time as the revised book.

      The Eastern and Western Guides will be updated within the next couple of years, but there is no date yet.

  21. Mario Pineda says

    Hello David,

    I am looking forward in getting the second version of the guide to birds, but I have a question. Can it only be preordered in hardcover? As much as I like hardcover books, I prefer paperback guides, so I was wondering if I can also preorder in paperback.

    • says

      There will only be one version of the book for sale – a flexibound cover like the first edition. Some sellers call it “hardcover” and some call it “paperback” but don’t let that confuse you. There is only one binding available.

  22. Mario Pineda says

    Thanks for the reply David. I have another question, when the revised version of the app is released, will I have to buy the new one or will the first edition one just be updated for free?

    • says

      Hi Mario, The pricing and upgrade of the app hasn’t been confirmed yet, and the developers and publisher are still exploring all of the options (which are limited by app store rules).

  23. Kirsten Sharpe says


    I was just about to order the National Audubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Birds, when I noticed your new book is coming out in March. Will the new edition cover the same species and geography as the one I just mentioned? I’m wondering if I should wait to buy the new edition or buy the Audubon book, depending on what species and regions are covered.


    • says

      Hi Kirsten,

      If I were you, and if waiting six weeks was not a problem, I would hold off and buy the new edition. It covers the same region and species as the first edition, but adds over 100 new species (mostly rare visitors) as well as new maps and revised text for all species.

    • says

      Hi Debbie, The second edition covers the same area as the first. I considered adding Hawaii but decided against it for this edition – hopefully I’ll have a chance to add those birds to a future edition.


  24. Alton Thygerson says

    Where can I obtain a “Fast Index” to your second edition? Sure wished the fonts were a bit larger and in black rather than small and gray for readability sake.

    Congratulations on the second edition–it’s a beautiful book

    • says

      Hi Alton, Thank you. One page in from the back cover is a Quick Index listing all of the species groups in the book. I don’t know of any third-party quick index for the book, so if you learn of one please let me know.

      Best, David

  25. says

    Dear David,
    Your Guides are fabulous-Thank You! Will there be a new edition of “The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior”? How exciting that would be!

    Thanks again,

  26. Keith Hay says

    Dear David,

    Are you planning to revise the individual Sibley Guides to Birds of Eastern North America and Western North America, based on the new second edition of the Sibley Guide to Birds? That would be great if you did. Thank you.

  27. Keith Hay says

    Hi David,

    Further to my query on whether you planned to create revised editions of the separate bird guides to Eastern and Western North America (based on the new Sibley Guide to Birds (Second Edition), (if you do so)I would just like to offer you a couple of suggestions:

    – I think that the Quick Index might be put on the inside front cover for easier access, and

    – You might add the Mountain Chickadee to the Eastern book, as it can irrupt in winter into the Eastern region.

    Thank you for your new Sibley Guide to Birds. The books are beautiful and wonderful.

  28. Tim Morey says

    Have your hard copy book. Do you have a down loadable book for a Microsoft
    Surface? If so how can I get it.


  29. Bernie McHugh says

    Dear David –
    I agree with Alton’s comments above. The book is beautiful and the larger, brighter images are most welcome. However, the small, gray text is very difficult to read and present a serious obstacle to use in the field. Hopefully, at least the text color, if not the size, could be corrected by your publisher in reprints and future editions.

  30. Ken Cook says

    Dear David:

    I agree with the above comments. The font and color should be at least as set forth in your first addition. The second addition is much harder to easily read, especially for us older folks.

  31. Lucas Price says

    Dear Mr. Sibley:

    First off I love your guides. Honestly they are easier for me to use when identifying birds than the any other guide, even the Peterson guides. I was excited to know that you had a published a second edition to your already famous “Sibley Guide to Birds.” In regard to the publishing of this second edition I was wondering if the smaller guides such as ” The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America” or ” The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America” will also be updated and revised in upcoming years? Or if possibly a “Sibley Field Guide to Trees” may be published for field use unlike the large “Sibley Guide to Trees”? Your response and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely,
    An Interested Naturalist and Reader

  32. Tedi-Lea DeBruler says

    I was considering using your Birding Flashcards to accompany our study of the Burgess Bird Book (with my 6 year old). Is there a way to get a list of the birds featured in the flash cards to see if the same birds are in both? Those listed in the first ten chapters of Burgess are: House Wren; Sparrows: English, Song, White-Throated, Fox, Chipping, Vesper, and Tree; Bluebird, Robin, Phoebe and Least Flycatcher, Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wood Peewee, Woodcock, Spotted Sandpiper, Red Winged Blackbird, and Golden Winged Flicker. Thank you for your time and assistance!

  33. John Reed says

    I have enjoyed your Field Guide to Western Birds for many years while living on the West Coast. But I am now living and working in Central Europe for a few years. Can you recommend a comparable field guide to the birds of this region? Thank you.


  1. […] Sibley’s Guides to Birds and Trees in North America provide a ‘holistic’ approach to identification based on features, characteristics, behaviours, differences/similarities and probabilities. These guides help people quickly determine patterns and the ‘gestalt’ of the item under consideration. They are described like a map rather than a key. For Rhizo15, a guide of this type would help examine patterns of conversations in twitter, explore features within readings or creative ventures, or analyze the differences/similarities found in the created works of participants. Mapping the rhizo15 learning experience is subjective but common characteristics can be seen in the interactions, actions, and patterns. […]

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