Birdwatching is a particularly rewarding pursuit for many Americans. It’s the ideal way to get out in nature and appreciate the beauty and splendor of our world with minimal impact.
The big challenge when it comes to bird watching is simple. Recognizing all the birds.
Everyone needs a little help when it comes to identifying birds and that’s where our picks for the best bird field guides come in.
Have these to hand and you’ll be the most knowledgeable birder in the forest.
Best Bird Field Guides
The Sibley Guide To Birds, 2nd Edition
If you only buy one guide to birds then The Sibley Guide is recognized by the Audubon Society as the finest bird guide of them all.
It’s named after David Sibley who provides the incredible drawings throughout the book and it is without a doubt the most comprehensive birding guide we know of.
Try not to get the first edition, there were print run problems with it, but the second is as close to perfect as any guide can be.
It’s very easy to access. The only downside is how much it weighs – it’s not the most portable guide out there.
You can find the online.
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds
There are two really useful features of this guide that you won’t find in other guides.
The first is the photographs of the birds shot from different angles of view.
This makes it easier to recognize them from any side, but the biggest win is the background habitat photography that lets you put the birds into context in the field.
You can find the The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds here.
National Geographic Guide to the Birds Of North America, Sixth Edition
As you’d expect the National Geographic Guide is excellent and it is one of the most popular birder choices.
It’s a good choice for hiking with as it is relatively compact and lightweight especially when compared to the Sibley Guide.
The artwork is, perhaps, the best of all bird guides – what else would you expect from Nat Geo?
You can find the National Geographic Guide to the Birds Of North America, Sixth Edition online.
Peterson Field Guide To Birds Of North America
If your family have been birdwatching for decades, then the odds are pretty good that there’s a copy of this book somewhere in your family library.
It was originally published back in 1934 and though the latest revision was published in 2008, there’s not a huge amount of difference between print runs.
You can find the Peterson Field Guide To Birds Of North America online.
The New Stokes Field Guide To Birds: Eastern Region
We have both New Stokes’ guides on our list because they are really excellent.
They have thousands of color photographs inside that particularly highlight the seasonal variations in plumage.
They are also very compact and slip easily into a pocket.
You can find The New Stokes Field Guide To Birds: Eastern Region online.
The New Stokes Field Guide To Birds: Western Region
The New Stokes’ guides also have wonderful written observations of birds in the wild that can boost your chances of making a positive ID on a bird.
The only complaint we have is the range maps – they’re ridiculously small, they ought to ship these with a magnifying glass to read them with.
You can find The New Stokes Field Guide To Birds: Western Region online.
The Warbler Guide
This is an ultra-specialist guide to warblers, America’s finest songbirds, they cover every bird to be found in North America of the warbler group and you get the most refined detail when it comes to pictures and images.
It’s a bit on the big side, though, better kept at home than taken into the field.
You can find The Warbler Guide online.
Kaufman Field Guide To Birds Of North America
The Kaufman guide is a classic and it’s one of the best starter guides for new birdwatchers. We are a bit surprised though that it hasn’t had a new edition since 2005.
The information isn’t “out of date” but it could certainly be a little more “up to date”.
You can find the Kaufman Field Guide To Birds Of North America on Amazon.
Last Word on Bird Field Guides
We hope that you’ve found the perfect bird guide for you among our recommendations for the best bird field guides.
If you have, then why not check out our top 12 best binoculars or our top picks for birdwatching, so that you can sight and capture birds in their natural glory?