Sibley’s new bird book is amazing

Linda and I have several bird books by David Sibley, which we used a lot over the years, so I was excited to receive his new book, What It’s Like To Be A Bird. It’s an amazing book of details about lots of birds.

I thought I knew a lot about birds, but from the very first page, I not only learned a lot, I was astonished by all the things David shared with us about birds. As he said in the introduction, he wanted to tell us “about some of the more interesting and amazing things birds do.” Mission accomplished!

From the colors and feathers of birds to their sight, smell, and hearing, you will be amazed at what you learn.

Did you know that Peregrine Falcons can fly as fast as 242 miles an hour? Wow! I did know wild turkeys are fast runners, and according to David, they’re the fastest runners of all the North American birds, running up to 25 miles per hour. No wonder I had such a hard time shooting them!

Bird migrations are amazing. Some even eat while they fly. One of my favorites, the Blackpoll Warbler, migrates from Alaska to Brazil and back every year.

I found it very interesting to learn how birds eat, because they have no hands or teeth. I enjoy watching robins wander all over our lawn, stopping every once in a while to pull out a worm, but I had no idea they eat as much as fourteen feet of worms a day.

I’ve seen flocks of small birds flying along with hawks and eagles and harassing them. Now I know that is not unusual.

All of these things and a lot more I learned in the first section of the book. And it would have been a great book if it had ended there. But there is a lot more in the book, including colorful images of birds, a couple sections that tell us about lots of birds, and even a section on things you can do in a bunch of situations, such as if a bird hits your window or a woodpecker attacks your house. This has happened at our house and it was good to know what to do – and no, he doesn’t recommend that I shoot the woodpecker!

There’s even some advice about becoming a birder. Since Linda and I became birders – maybe about 25 years ago – it has added a lot to our lives, including our travels. We even enjoyed a trip to Costa Rica where we saw a lot of exotic birds.

You don’t have to be an avid birder to enjoy this book, but if you are, and you think you know a lot about birds, you will be astonished at all you learn in this great book.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.