Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Sibley Guide to Trees

I fell in love the moment I opened David Sibley's new Guide to Trees. I stood there at the kitchen table, slowly paging through the book and looking at the drawings. My coat was still on, the dogs needed to go out, and I couldn't put it down.
Sibley is best-known for his bird identification guides, of course, and this is his first non-bird field guide. I read an interview with him where he said he wasn't planning to do guidebooks for other species, which would be a shame. I love this book so much I'd simply love to see him do the same thing with butterflies and just about anything else, too.
For those of you who have Sibley's bird identification book, this one is the same size and format. Lots of drawings of trees, leaves, buds, nuts, etc., plus lots of information about the trees and their habitats. Nearly every species gets its own page, and I've already learned I know less about trees than I thought I did.
As with his bird guides, this book is a bit large to be carting around in the field in your backpack. It's not impossible to carry it with you, but it's not the kind of thing I'd want on a 10-mile hike--maybe a 1-mile stroll would be okay, though. This book is the kind of thing I'd curl up with in a winter evening with a cup of tea at the side. It's meant to be studied and enjoyed and then kept handy for easy reference.
I've already been wandering through my front forest with the book in hand. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait until it stops raining before my next foray with it.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I'm glad to hear your positive thoughts on this new Sibley guide. It's on my wish list.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Everything I've read about this book has been positive. I'm glad to hear you concur.

I do wish the trend wasn't seemingly getting away from good, useable field guides that could actually be used in the field. Last year I received a review copy of Peterson's FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. Unfortunately, it is too big by far to be a "field guide," which then begs the question, given its non-portable size, why not include more useful information about a particular species? As it stands, though, only "field guide" info is included. Since it will seldom be used afield for identification, yet doesn't tell you much beyond that, what's the purpose?

I guess my real quibble is in such works calling themselves "field guides."

Carolyn H said...

Lynne: it's my new favorite book. I'm having a wonderful time with it--when I'm not outside of course. I'm already planning to re-survey my own little corner of the forest to make sure my previous IDs of the trees is accurate. I'm pretty sure it's not.

Carolyn H

Carolyn H said...

Griz: I agree with your comments about "fieldguides" not being usable in the field. You know what I'm waiting for? It's for the fieldguides or larger-than-fieldguide-sized fieldguides to be available on the Kindle. That's when I'll get one of those things. Imagine being able to have 27 different fieldguides loaded onto one and then taking it into the field. That's almost my idea of heaven.

Carolyn H.

Squirrel said...

Oh yes, I am totally there with you on the kindle field guide! Since you gave the Sibley such raves I will check it out. I really do need to learn my trees. I love old old field guides, they are the ones that have just that little more information that is interesting. They also seem more personal. Just one little comment on behavior would make the world of difference.