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Birders Flock To Learn Secrets Of Field Guides From Author In Stamford

New York Times Bestselling Author David Sibley talked about his latest birding field guide at an event in Stamford Thursday.
New York Times Bestselling Author David Sibley talked about his latest birding field guide at an event in Stamford Thursday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

STAMFORD, Conn. — David Sibley grew up alongside people who had a love for birds.

“Every adult I knew used a field guide,” Sibley said an event held at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center last week. Later, he would go on to create his own — the New York Times bestselling “The Sibley Guide to Birds.”

The work was a natural progression for Sibley, who was surrounded by avid birders and ornithologists as a child growing up in Guilford. “Writing a field guide seemed like a perfectly reasonable career path, and that’s what I chose to do,” he said.

Sibley stopped by the Bendel Mansion at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center to discuss the process behind the completely revised and updated “Sibley Birds East,” which is described as an “indispensable resource for all birders seeking an authoritative guide in a portable format they will want to carry into the field.” Birders from across Fairfield County joined the talk.

The guide covers 650 bird species and regional populations. More than 4,600 illustrations accompany the entries.

Sibley said converting the 3-D structure of the birds into 2-D lines on paper takes practice. And he said he learns a little from each sketch, each line.

The original drawings are reduced to appear in the field guide, which actually appear more refined at a smaller size.

“The paintings in the guide look a lot more detailed than the originals do,” he said of the paintings, which he draws by hand and then scans to make them digital.

Making the drawings and accompanying description come together is a challenge, Sibley said. “It’s like a sort of real-life game of Tetris.”

To create “Sibley Birds East,” he had to localize the descriptions from the latest revised version of his original book, which covered all of North America.

If Sibley creates another field guide, he could find inspiration no farther than the center’s scenic property. “I wish I had more time to explore,” he said of the center’s grounds.

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is located at 39 Scofieldtown Road in Stamford. For more information on the center, visit its website here .

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