Book Review: What It’s Like To Be a Bird

by Joe Meche

From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing — What Birds Are Doing, and Why

by David Allen Sibley
Alfred A. Knopf, 2020
203 pages; hardcover; $35.00

We’re all familiar with David Sibley’s excellent field guides, but, in my estimation, his latest publication just might be his magnum opus. This is a larger volume than we’re used to seeing, and, in no way should it be considered a field guide. This is a book to fill those cold, rainy days when common sense demands that you stay closer to the hearth. Most of us diehards won’t do that, but I think you get the point.

The illustrations are some of his finest and the writing is precise and reader-friendly. Each featured species or group of birds is given a two-page spread with more information and insights than any field guide on the market. The text is well written and non-technical and the book’s size makes it perfect for adults to share with children. The preface provides insight into the making of this book, and the introduction itself is worthy of a separate publication, given the amount of general avian information it contains.

We might be far away from the gift-giving season, but when it gets closer to Christmas, think about “What It’s Like To Be a Bird” for the seasoned or neophyte birder in your life. This should occupy their time when they’re underfoot and can’t be out in the field for one reason or another.