Here’s some great news for anyone who bought the second edition of The Sibley Guide when it was first published, only to be disappointed by color reproduction and type readability (more details in my Initial Review). The publisher, Knopf (a division of Random House), is offering a free replacement with the much improved second printing:

If you bought the 1st printing of Sibley’s 2d edition, Random House will send you the vastly improved 2d printing if you call them at (800) 793-2665 (during business hours). There will be a number to press to get details on the replacement. In order to get a replacement, you will have to cut off the UPC from the 1st printing and mail it to them at:

Penguin Random House
Attn: Consumer Services/DMF
400 Hahn Rd.
Westminister, MD 21157

This is a very classy move by the publisher. Thanks Knopf! And thanks to Dalcio on BirdForum for calling attention to this.

This issue has gone through several stages, from the initial excitement about the program and success of some people, to subsequent denials from the publisher, to finally what seems like an official program as outlined above.

Update 2/4/2015: People have been reporting various degrees of success after calling the publisher. After giving their contact info, some have been told that a replacement will be sent to them, others that they will be contacted later. Some have been told that only copies bought directly from the publisher will be replaced, and all others should seek to exchange it from wherever they originally purchased it. And then others were told that this is for real and they will get a replacement (and were even given a confirmation number).

Basically, no one is sure what the real situation is. It’s quite possible that there is no official replacement program. At this time, the best thing to do is call the publisher and hope this is for real.

Update 2/5/2015: There are still inconsistent messages coming from the publisher. However, several people have reported success in getting returns authorized from Amazon. If you got the 1st printing from Amazon, I’d suggest contacting them and letting them know it was defective and that a new printing has been done to correct it. They should send you a replacement, even if it’s beyond the normal 30-day return window. Some have been told they will NOT have to return the original item, but others were told they’d get a shipping label to return it. If they say you don’t have to return it, I would suggest keeping that correspondence, just in case.

Update 2/6/2015: It seems that Random House has set their official policy – unfortunately, it’s that free replacements are no longer being offered (see the comments for some communications from the publisher). I’m glad that some people did get their copy of the 2nd printing, though. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest contacting the publisher anyway – they are taking down contact information and maybe, just maybe, they will continue sending out replacements.

Update 2/18/2015: The details above have been updated. The publisher has added an option to their automated system when you call them to provide details on how to get a replacement copy. It seems this is now official.

The Birds' WeddingThe Birds’ Wedding
by Bryna Hellmann and Leslie Browne

This is two books inside one cover. The story of The Birds’ Wedding is for reading aloud – perhaps at bedtime, since it ends with “Good Night!”. It’s a fantasy, of course, but even though the wedding guests are wearing hats and playing musical instruments, they look the way they do in real life.

The second part, Looking at Birds, is about lots of other birds, how they look, sing and make their nests, what they eat, where they live and what we call them. This part is for children who can read for themselves and for parents who want to answer their kids’ questions. We hope it’s fun to read and will encourage children to look for the birds where they live, recognize them, know their names and care about their well-being.

Because we “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”, we’re responsible for the well-being of all the living creatures we share our planet with. We depend on them as much as they depend on us. A world without birds would be a sad place.


This is a cute, short story for kids about a bird wedding. It’s illustrated with some beautifully distinctive drawings. The second part is an overview of birds with a plea for conservation.

You can buy this book by emailing the author at The cost is $25, which includes shipping to the US.


The Birds’ Wedding
by Bryna Hellmann and Leslie Browne
Paperback; 46 pages
Calbona Publishing; July, 2014

The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Second Edition) My review of The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide is now up on Nature Travel Network.

When the second edition of The Sibley Guide was published earlier this year, there were clearly some issues with it. The most serious of those was color reproduction on some plates and a light text font that could make it hard to read. But a recently released second printing has corrected those issues. The text is darker, making it easier to read now. The colors also look much better. The most often cited offender was the male Scarlet Tanager, which was clearly not “brilliant red”, as the text notes. The second printing is clearly redder, although not quite as much as it had been in the first edition.

Scarlet Tanager comparison between Sibley Guides

Scarlet Tanager in The Sibley Guides: 1st edition on left; 2nd edition, 1st printing center; 2nd edition, 2nd printing right

So if you’ve held off getting this new Sibley Guide, it’s now safe to buy. The 2nd printings can be identified by locating the text “Second printing, July 2014″ on the page after the title page. I haven’t yet seen the new ones in a store, but you can get one now from Buteo Books.

The Warbler Guide appThe Warbler Guide app is now available on iTunes for Apple devices. Check out the recent blog tour for the app for a closer look at it.

Princeton University Press is also hosting a huge giveaway that includes a copy of the app, the book, the companion sound package for the book, and even binoculars! Enter here.

The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Second Edition)The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Second Edition)
by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean

From Cornell University Press:

This is the one compact, portable, and user-friendly field guide the novice or experienced birder needs to identify birds in the field in the diverse habitats found in Costa Rica. It features descriptions and illustrations of all 903 species definitely known from Costa Rica, including pelagics and species regular to Cocos Island. Fifty-six of these species are placed in a “Rarities” section that includes accidentals, rarer pelagics, and species that have not been reported in more than twenty years.

The detailed full-color illustrations show identifying features—including plumage differences among males, females, and juveniles—and views of birds in flight wherever pertinent. Robert Dean has supplied more than 360 new illustrations, including sixty-four species that are illustrated for the first time in this edition. These include recent additions to the country list, pelagic species, Cocos Island species, and all accidentals recorded from the Costa Rican mainland. Range maps and nomenclature have been updated for this edition, which also has a new user-friendly organizational scheme and an alphabetical quick-find index of groups on the inside back cover.


This is the best field guide available for this wonderfully birdy country.


The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Second Edition)
by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean
Paperback; 440 pages
Comstock Publishing Associates (imprint of Cornell University Press); December 4, 2014
ISBN: 978-0801479885

Searching for Pekpek: Cassowaries and Conservation in the New Guinea Rainforest

I reviewed this book earlier this year – it’s a great story and even more important message about conservation. The author is offering free shipping to the US and Canada until the end of the year. Even better, a portion of sales are donated to support conservation in Papua New Guinea. Order here


Save 25% on a single book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Both expire on 12/14.

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of FloridaAmerican Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Florida
by Bill Pranty; Photographs by Brian E. Small

From Scott & Nix, Inc.:

From the dunes and great river swamps of the Panhandle, the flat woods, scrubs, dry prairies, and wetlands of the Peninsula to the coral reefs of the Keys, the Sunshine State provides habitats for an amazing variety of birds. Florida is rich in protected and preserved habitats, including 11 National Parks, 171 State Parks and Trails, and 100 important Bird Areas. Conservation organizations maintain many sanctuaries for wildlife throughout Florida, attracting birds and providing access for visitors to enjoy the outdoors. Written by expert birder Bill Pranty and filled with crisp, gorgeous color photography by Brian E. Small, American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Florida is the perfect companion for anyone learning more about the natural history and diversity of the state’s birds and when and where to see them.


Another excellent entry in the ABA’s state field guide series. Here’s a review of the series.


American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Florida
by Bill Pranty; Photographs by Brian E. Small
Paperback; 368 pages
Scott & Nix, Inc.; December 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1935622482

American Birding Association State Field Guides: Colorado, New Jersey, Florida

I’m happy to report that I’ll now be contributing book reviews to the Nature Travel Network, in addition to this site. My first is now up, a look at the first three entries in the American Birding Association State Field Guide series (Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida)

The BirdsEye Bird Finding app is already one of the most useful mobile apps for birders, allowing you to access eBird data on-the-go and find birds and hotspots near you. But the BirdsEye team has been steadily improving the app and adding new features. They’ve recently announced the availability of additional sound packages for many regions of the world.

The Sounds

BirdEye has partnered with, a company that has produced many highly acclaimed bird sound collections. The collections available in the BirdsEye app are:

  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Northern Siberia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Australia
  • Belgium and Holland

These things are extensive! Costa Rica, for example, includes 2,061 recordings of 764 species (over 15 hours’ worth), while Colombia has 5,500+ recordings of over 1,600 species (46 hours!). Altogether, they average 2-3 sounds per species, but some birds have many more than that if warranted. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the sounds available, but the ones I’ve listened to sound great.

Using the Sounds

You play the sounds from each bird’s species page. The easiest way to access those is to use the Nearby Birds or Browse All Species functions from the home screen. You can also get to them from the bird lists for each hotspot.

Even with these options, I felt that something was missing. I wanted a way to view and play all of the sounds from a given package, but just the ones from that package. I finally discovered a way to do so. Go back to the Bird Guide Store, tap on a package you’ve purchased, then go to the Bird List. Tapping on the names here will take you to the Species Account page where you can play the sound.

Playing the sounds is very simple – just tap on the speaker icon at the bottom of the species page. That brings up a list of all the sounds for that species across all the packages that you own. Then just tap on the sound that you want to play. Note that if you’ve downloaded the sounds for offline use that the topmost one starts playing automatically when you tap the speaker icon. That could be problematic depending on where you are and what you’re doing (it could potentially scare away a bird), but that’s easy to deal with if you’re prepared for it.

BirdsEye species account screen

Tapping the speaker icon on the bottom-left of a bird's page...

BirdsEye sound playback screen you the sound playback screen in BirdsEye.

This interface is a little too simple for my taste. From the screen you can only switch sounds, pause, or close the list. You cannot skip ahead or backwards within the track or set it to repeat. Also, a progress bar appears when playing, but it would be nice to have the total time and time elapsed displayed as well. Finally, the sounds are labelled as “song” or “call”. Rarely, further information is displayed, like “Pacific” or “Caribbean”, but it would be nice if this was done on a more consistent basis.

Getting the Sounds

BirdsEye sound packagesYou can purchase the sound packages either from the BirdsEye website or directly in the main BirdsEye app or the BirdsEye North America app (they are not available in the other regional apps) by going to the Bird Guide Store from the app home screen. From there, you can find extensive details on each package, including the list of birds included. Once you purchase the package, the sounds are instantly available within the app over the cloud (provided you’re connected to the internet, of course). Alternatively, you can download the whole package, which I would recommend if you’ll be traveling as you may not always have a reliable network connection. If you later need the space back, you can easily clear the data within the app without worry, because you can download the packages as many times as you want and from any device that you own.

BirdsEye sound package info BirdsEye sound package bird list

However, there’s one catch. You have the sounds, but you need to be able to access those species in BirdsEye. To do that, you need to have either a membership subscription ($4.99 or $9.99/month) or the appropriate regional app. For instance, if you purchase the Bird Sounds of Peru collection, you need to make sure that you also have access to Peruvian birds either through a membership or purchase of BirdsEye South America. Update: This is not the case. I’ve been informed that when you purchase a sound package, you also get full access and content for those birds in the app.

That’s not very straightforward, but this process is going to be made more user-friendly soon. Shortly, the main BirdsEye app will become free and will give you access to the 50 most common species anywhere you are on the planet. (The newly released Android version of BirdsEye already does this.) Then there will be several options to see more species:

  1. Purchasing a membership will give you eBird data and BirdsEye content (photos and text where available) for all of the species on Earth as well as unlimited favorite locations
  2. Purchasing a region will give you eBird data and BirdsEye content for all of the species in that region
  3. Purchasing a sound pack will give you access to that content, plus eBird data and BirdsEye content for all of those species

These sound packages are a great addition to an already useful app. If you’re going to be birding any of these regions, they’re a great way to have the bird sounds always at your fingertips. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how important that is. These packages aren’t cheap ($24.99-$49.49 each), but they’re a good deal considering how many recordings you get. And purchasing them through BirdsEye is actually cheaper than getting them on discs, and much more convenient.

Disclosure: These sound packages were provided by the publisher for review purposes. But the opinion expressed here is my own, it has not been influenced in any way.