The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

sib_guide_western_tnPublished 2003 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Info and sales at your local independent bookstore or

Originally published in 2003

Updates and corrections

What species are in the Eastern and Western bird guides?

Which bird book should I buy?

Changes to official bird names since 2000

The Sibley Field Guides to Birds East and West were both published in April 2003. They use the same artwork from the original Sibley Guide to Birds. These employ a different design, with each page divided into top and bottom halves, and the species info fit into that space. No changes were made to the artwork, but fewer illustrations are used in these smaller books. The text was largely rewritten. The largest differences being that the voice descriptions are simplified, and a sentence or two was added to each species describing the general status and habitat. Finally, the maps were completely revised for these books, using a team of over 100 experts from around the continent, compiled by Paul Lehman.

28 thoughts on “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America”

  1. Hello. I suppose this would be more of a suggestion than a comment. I would be very pleased to see your products released on the Android platform. I have always enjoyed your guides but rarely have one with me when I am out and about. My cel phone however is usually with me. I would definitely appreciate having the info readily at hand. Thanks again for a great

  2. Hi David,

    it’s again me with a question on your book. You convinced me to buy the Western Guide. When I proceeded to do so, I found a new problem. If possible at all, I really prefer to have field guides bound in softcover, which makes them much more convenient to carry them in a cargo pant or so. On various webshops I just found the book indicated to be a softcover edition, if it was used and simultaneously really expensive. The new and cheaper ones were called “turtleback”, or “special binding”. A look at google to check what a turtleback bound book is delivered the following:

    “A library binding of a mass market paperback with a generic hardcover” (

    Actually I worked in a library for two years, but I must admit that I do not really understand this. Making a long story short: Is your “turtleback” edition at least somehow flexible and just more durable than a normal paperback, or is it as stiff as a regular hardcover.

    Looking forward hearing from you,

  3. Hi Markus,
    All of these books are bound with a flexible but heavy and coated paper cover that extends just a bit farther than the edge of the pages. The publisher calls it “flexi-bound”, but sellers don’t seem to understand that term and often list it as “hardcover”, apparently just because it’s not a standard “paperback”. I’m sure there are some used “turtleback” copies for sale that have been rebound by the previous owners, but any new copy you buy will be flexible and relatively easy to carry in a large pocket.

  4. David,

    For years I’ve dreamed of a technology resource which could record birdsong and, in the same way that computers now recognize human speech, identify the species of bird doing the singing. Singing birds hidden away in brush or in dense trees could be identified in this way. Bringing the field guide to technological platforms means that this dream could be only a small step from fulfillment.

  5. Heard there is to be reprint of The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America in 2011. When will it be released?
    Many thanks

  6. Greetings David,

    I currently own your “Guide to Birds” and “Field Guide” (Eastern).

    I’m planning a trip to Alaska and am wondering which would serve my needs better; the Western Field Guide or the iPhone app.? Is the Western Field Guide available as an app.?


    1. Hi JP, The app includes all of the species and content of the printed guides, and you can select “Alaska” as your location so that it functions as a guide to the birds of Alaska. The printed Western Guide would also include every species you are likely to see in Alaska. The choice would really come down to your preference. Advantages of the printed guide are ease of comparison and browsing, and no batteries required. Advantages of the iPhone guide are light weight, sounds, and searchable by species (it does not require internet access). Hope that helps. Best, David

  7. Hi David,

    I am looking to buy a copy of the Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, however I am coming across 2 different versions with different ISBNs and a 10$ price difference. I cannot seem to find what exactly is the difference between the two version except for the publishers. ISBN: 9780679451211 is published by Knopf (Random House), while ISBN: 9780713666588 is published by Christopher Helm. Can you please tell me if there is a difference between them, and if so, which one is better to buy and why?


    1. Hi Chloe, The Christopher Helm edition is published in the UK. It’s exactly the same content as the Knopf (US) edition, with a different cover. I imagine the Helm edition would be the more expensive one in the US, but you can order either one and rest assured it is the same book.

  8. Hi David, I will be hiking the jmt and was hoping to get your bird guide digitally. Is there any way to make that happen? Soon?

  9. I have a copy of the Eastern USA Bird Field Guide (love it) and next year I will be visiting the western USA. I would like to know whether you plan to publish an updated edition of the Western USA FG? Thanks.

    1. Hi Barbara, There is a single eGuide that covers all of North America and includes all of the content of the North American, Eastern, and Western guides. The species can be filtered by state, so that you only see ones that are possible in your current location, but there are no “regional” versions of the app.

      Best, David

  10. Is or Was the western bird field guide ever printed in paperback or flex bound. B&N only mentions the Hardcover version for sale and other sellers ie Walmart, ebay don’t say at all. Would like to get a flex bound version if its available.

    1. Hi Jack, Thanks for your interest. The Eastern and Western guides are only available in one format – flexi-bound. Book sellers have always had a hard time categorizing it, sometimes it is listed as hardcover (since it is not a standard paperback cover) and sometimes listed as paperback. But you can rest assured that every copy being sold is the same with the flexi-bound cover.

      1. Bonnie Clarfield-Bylin

        Thanks, I preordered the Western one and love it. I bought a second field guide for my daughter for her college ornithology class.

        Here is a new question, I have your Sibley app, version 1.9, for iOS. I was wondering if the taxonomy will be updated automatically or do I need to buy a new app? (I have had it for several years).

        It is my first “go to” bird guide when I am in the field. I only wish it was updated more often, For example the Sage Spsrrow still shows up as one species, although it was split a short time after I purchased the app. Of course this has been updated in new editions of your field guides.

  11. Any more news on the revised Western edition?
    Planning a trip to California in September and keen to purchase. Is it likely to be out by then.

  12. Hi Sibley,
    I’m running a big year competition for 2018 with colleagues and am wondering if you have a spreadsheet or list of one or all of the following: birds of western NA, birds of western Canada, or birds of Canada.
    Thank you kindly,

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