North American Field Guide

To: Steve Potter <>
Subject: North American Field Guide
From: David Adams <>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2017 23:56:59 +0000
On Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 9:04 AM, Steve Potter <> wrote:

> Thanks everyone for your helpful advise. Both on books and Apps.
> As I like a book to thumb through and write in I was more looking in this
> direction. I liked the idea of the Sibley books as they seem to be the
> stand out, but then I really only want one book for reference. So I ended
> up pre-ordering the Sept '17 release of the National Geographic single
> copy. If its rubbish I’ll get the Sibley one in the states.

The NatGeo was the go-to guide in America before the Sibley guides, so
you'll probably be pretty happy with it. There are tons of apps for North
America, I end up using the iBird apps the most, but several are quite

While there are plenty of birdy areas in North America, they can also be
hard to find at times....even if they're nearby. Plus, birding is so much
more seasonally dependant there than here. In the end, you need somewhat
different strategies in North America than Australia. (Plenty is the same,
of course.) First up, check for local bird clubs before you go! There are
heaps in the USA and Canada and are typically very helpful and friendly. I
know that some people disagree about this observation, but I find the birds
in North America far harder to distinguish than birds here...and I'm from
North America originally. There are so many LBJs up there. When I was a
kid, the Peterson's guide (the only substantial guide back then) clumped a
lot of Warblers into "confusing Spring Warblers" and "confusing Fall
Warblers." So true. (Warbler-watching is a specialized question
there...they've so fast moving and are often in mixed have to
switch quickly between naked eye and binoculars.)

You may also find that bird behavior is somewhat different. Mobbing is far
more common there, cooperative nesting is far more common here. (Does North
America even have cooperative nesting or nest helpers? I can't think of
species north of America apart from Acorn Woodpeckers, which are communal
nesters.) And the seasonal changes really take getting your head around.

A bird club can help you out with finding great locations, sorting through
sparrows, distinguishing ducks, dealing with waders, and a lot more. At the
least, a club outing is likely to include a few high-quality scopes if
you're working on waterfowl or waders and haven't brought your own.
(Brought your own spotting scope, I mean...bringing your own ducks is
frowned on.) If you're into owls, clubs are your best bet outside of luck.
If your dates don't line up with an outing, you should at least get some
ideas about areas to visit during the time of year you're going to visit.

The ABA also has state site guides which are sometime quite fantastic.
Years ago, I got a ton of value out of the Florida guide, for example.

LA Audubon has an excellent bookshop and a lot of specialized resources,
they're always a good place to check for specifics.

Oh, and the data sets for eBird in America are staggeringly rich in a lot
of areas....there's no way to get a sense of how useful that can be based
on birding in Aus.
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