Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Field Guide Review: The Sibley Guide to Trees

I have long resisted learning about plants and insects because with all the birds I am already so busy looking at I felt like I'd become overwhelmed with visual and mental stimulation. Yet birds and trees go together like peanut butter and jelly. People I work with like Michael Wiegand and Shon Parks have inspired my curiosity to know more about the plants that sustain wildlife. I figured an easy and mentally safe step to take would be to learn about trees. There really aren't that many varieties of wild trees in Idaho, so I shall endeavor. Plus everyone will think I am some kind of naturalist genius when I say "Check out that Mountain Chickadee in that Western Larch!"

The Sibley Guide to Trees, by my favorite bird field guide compiler and artist David Sibley, looks like just the sort of thing I need to get started in my quest to know my trees. I have used it to identify the trees around my neighborhood. I quickly discovered that Idaho has a lot of "cultivated" trees that are not wild to Idaho or North America and are therefore not included in the Sibley Guide to Trees. I usually am able to at least figure what group of trees it belongs to, so maybe I'll just sound smart and not like a complete genius.

The paintings of the tree parts and maps are just as good as Sibley's bird guides will all kinds of helpful species specific tips for identification. The book is a bit larger than is comfortable for most outdoor adventures, but perfect for those moments when you are just sitting there looking at a tree and wondering what in the heck it is. As a birder, a Scouter and an outdoor enthusiast I completely recommend The Sibley Guide to Trees.

Price: around $23 on various websites

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