Corrections to 4th printing of the Sibley Guide to Birds

The following list details corrections made in 2001 in the 4th printing of The Sibley Guide to Birds. If you own a 1st or 3rd printing you can make these corrections to your book.

A “quick index” was added to the book in the 4th printing. If you’d like to download a quick index for your earlier printing you can find one here.

Two name changes (Black-billed Magpie and Crested Caracara) are the most important correction in this printing. In both cases I had tried to anticipate American Ornithologist’s Union Checklist Committee changes that were made just before this book was printed in the summer of 2000, and I got it wrong. Black-billed Magpie and Crested Caracara were both split from extralimital populations, and the scientific names of both were changed. There was some discussion of changing the English names as well to emphasize the splits, but in the end the committee decided to retain the established English names.

* “American” Magpie changed back to Black-billed Magpie on page 350, 358, and 541

* “Northern” Caracara changed back to Crested Caracara on page 105, 128, 129, and 539

page 58: There are apparently records of ‘Cory’s’ (dark morph) Least Bittern from Ontario as recently as 1981, and a few widely scattered records more recntly, so the caption at the bottom of the page is changed to read simply “very rare”. The illustration of this plumage variant should be darker overall, corrections to art will be made in a later printing.

page 112: The images of perched adult male and female Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks should be different sizes to reflect the sexual size dimorphism in those species. Scans were inadvertently resized during printing and have been corrected so that the adult male Cooper’s is just barely larger than the adult female Sharp-shinned, while the adult male Sharp-shinned is smaller than all others.

page 115: Common Black-Hawk – The label that reads “white ‘comma'” on the flying adult is changed to read “pale ‘comma'”

page 141: Ring-necked Pheasant – voice description is changed to reflect the fact that apparently only the male gives a loud harsh cackle when flushed.

page 147: Greater Prairie-Chicken – label describing Attwater’s subspecies is changed for clarity “Attwater’s averages 10 percent smaller than Northern…”

page 164: Piping Plover – all three standing birds have been enlarged to better represent the true size of the species, similar to Semipalmated Plover.

page 240: Black Skimmer – the reference to “Oldsquaw” in the voice description has been changed to “Long-tailed Duck”

page 292: Lucifer Hummingbird image has been reduced to better represent the true size of the species, similar to Costa’s Hummingbird.

page 361: Header text amended with new sentence “Tamaulipas [Crow] is now an extremely rare visitor”. This species has been recorded only a few times in Texas since 1998, and should be identified there with great care.

page 374: Black-capped Chickadee – the fresh adult Eastern bird has been enlarged to be larger than the Pacific bird, similar in size to the Rocky Mountain bird.

page 378: Drab Gray Birds of the Arid Southwest – a text note has been added “see also Gray Vireo”.

page 455: Hooded Warbler – the right-hand bird in flight is an adult male and should be labeled as such.

page 485: The adult Clay-colored Sparrow image is too dark and contrasty in the first and second printing. This has been corrected with a new scan.

page 514: Brewer’s Blackbird – the bird labeled “adult male nonbreeding” is now called “drab 1st winter male (Aug-Mar)”, as this plumage type seems to be scarce in general and virtually all males in winter look essentially all black. Therefore the all black bird here is now labeled simply “adult male”.

8 thoughts on “Corrections to 4th printing of the Sibley Guide to Birds”

  1. I have a Sibley Guide to Birds published 2000. I understand there is a quick index which I can print out and place inside the front cover but cannot find it online. Would you send it to me please? Thank you.

    1. Hi Jeannette,
      A quick index for the first printing of the large Sibley Guide is still available at the Avisys website here (in both pdf and .doc fomats, scroll to bottom of page) The 4th printing and later of the large North American Guide, and all printings of the Eastern and Western Guides include a quick index just inside the rear endpapers, so there is no need to print your own.

  2. I travel much and love your book. But, I think there’s one thing that’s missing: very few subspecies listed. It’s hard to know if, say, the hook-billed kite we see S of the US border is the same bird as can be seen here in the states. There’s a lot of mixing & a lot of movement & I LOVE keeping track of subspecies.
    Thanks for your time.
    (We have 6 of your books already!)
    Anni Gossmann
    PS There are many other bird guides that lack subspecies listings & it can get quite confusing knowing if the bird you saw in, say, Trinidad & Tobago is the same bird you see in Costa Rica or are they actually different (in terms of subspecies).

    1. Hi Anni, Thanks. I tried to simplify the subspecies information in the book so it would be more understandable and so people would see the “big picture” of variation rather than minutiae. Currently Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds is the best summary of subspecies and includes mention of other subspecies south of the US, but lacks illustrations. The BNA accounts (subscription) from Cornell is a bit uneven but getting better, and they’re also working on adding coverage of all Neotropical species, which is probably the closest thing to your wish.

  3. Why is your bald eagle range map wrong? Cause i live in martinsburg west virginia and in your guide you say there around here only in migration? I KNOW for a fact there around here cause my dad has seen them and there is a nest just 3 miles away from my house plus more nests and birds elsewhere in west virgina.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll look into it for the next revision. For one thing, I know that the number of nesting Bald Eagles in the US has increased a lot in the last 20 years, so it’s likely that the data we used for the range maps would have shown fewer nests in West Virginia. Also, the range map can only show one color for each location, so if Bald Eagle is primarily a migrant or visitor to West Virginia, we might choose to draw the map that way even though there are a few nesting pairs. It becomes a judgment call then, but I suspect that with the increase in nesting it should be shown as a breeding bird now.

  4. Thank you. I am 13 and my brother and I really like birding. We almost know every bird in your book. Can’t wait for your next revision.


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