David Allen Sibley


David Allen Sibley (born 22 October 1961, in Plattsburgh, New York) is an American ornithologist. He is the author and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, which rivals Roger Tory Peterson's as the most comprehensive guides for North American ornithological field identification.

David Allen Sibley
at the 2014 National Book Festival
at the 2014 National Book Festival
Born22 October 1961
Plattsburgh, New York
Occupationauthor, ornithologist, illustrator
Notable worksThe Sibley Guide to Birds

Life and workEdit

The son of Yale University ornithologist Fred Sibley, David Sibley began birding in childhood.[1] Sibley got his start as a birdwatcher in Cape May Point, New Jersey in 1980, after dropping out of college.[2] A largely self-taught bird illustrator, he was inspired to pursue creating his own illustrated field guide after leading tours in the 1980s and 1990s and finding that existing field guides did not generally illustrate or describe alternate or juvenile plumages of birds. He cites European wildlife artist Lars Jonsson as a great influence on his own work.[3] In 2002, he received the Roger Tory Peterson Award from the American Birding Association for lifetime achievement in promoting the cause of birding.[4] In 2006, he was awarded the Linnaean Society of New York's Eisenmann Medal.

Sibley is married, with two sons, and currently lives in Concord, Massachusetts.[1] He is not known to be related to ornithologist Charles Sibley, although his father studied under and worked for Charles at Yale. Charles did some genealogical research but found they could be no closer than fourth cousins.


The following is a list of publications which Sibley has written or illustrated:

  • The Birds of Cape May
  • Sibley's Birding Basics
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds
  • The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior
  • The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
  • The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
  • Hawks in Flight
  • The Sibley Guide to Trees
  • What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing--What Birds Are Doing, and Why
  • Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins


  1. ^ a b Strycker, Noah (May–June 2007). "A Birding interview with David Sibley" (PDF). Birding. 39 (3): 18–21.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Lemongello, Steven. "Professional birder, author, got start in Cape May Point", The Press of Atlantic City, October 24, 2009. Accessed September 12, 2019. "Like a migrating bird returning to its nesting grounds, noted birding guide author David Allen Sibley has returned to the town where he first learned about birdwatching.... The writer, now based out of Concord, Mass., first came to Cape May Point in the fall of 1980, 'when I essentially dropped out of college to go birdwatching full time.'"
  3. ^ "David Sibley Online". Surfbirds.com. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  4. ^ American Birding Association. "ABA Award Recipients". Retrieved January 25, 2018.

External linksEdit

David Allen Sibley talks about The Sibley Guide to Trees on Bookbits radio.
  • Sibley Guides: Presenting the Work of David Allen Sibley
  • Blog- Sibley Guides
  • David Sibley Interview at Virtual Birder
  • Nature: About David Allen Sibley Random House Interview
  • Springtime Birding with David Sibley Living on Earth Interview