Wednesday, April 23, 2014

David Sibley at Anderson's Books in Downers Grove

Thanks to a string of conversations at the Downers Grove Public Library on April 10, Bonnie learned just a few hours before the event that bird guide artist and author David Sibley would speak at Anderson's Books in Downers Grove. Bonnie called to notify me, and I quickly called Anderson's to reserve a seat and a copy of the new The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition. What great luck! My luck continued at Anderson's where the event was intimate and relaxed. Everyone who came sat close and had an opportunity to ask questions.

The author told us about his methods for sketching in the field and painting in the studio, resulting in paintings three times larger than the corresponding pages in his guide book. He kept all the masters from the first edition to help with the second. Half of the paintings were slightly updated and about 10 percent were updated greatly. New pages were also produced as over 100 bird species were added. Range maps have new colors, and most of the text was rewritten. The second edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds looks very fresh next to my well-used first edition.

Sibley's discussion of his artistry led to stories about his life as a birder. He started around age eight helping his father (an ornithologist) band birds. His practice of sketching birds led to making close observations of behavior, and he always encourages all birders to field sketch. He considers himself equally an artist and a scientist. Much of the latter part of his presentation and the questions dealt with bird behavior, population dynamics, and birding practices.

It was a wonderful evening. Now I am looking forward to using my new edition The Sibley Guide to Birds. 

Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 598p. ISBN 9780307957900.

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