“A bird’s experience is far richer,
complex, and thoughtful than I’d imagined.”
David Allen Sibley
In a previous blog post I wrote about The Bird Man of America, John James Audubon. However, it appears there’s a new bird man of America artist that has been painting and studying birds for over 50 years. He has been called the most important illustrator of birds since Audubon.
David Allen Sibley, ornithologist, self-taught artist and author was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. His love of birds began at the age of eight years old while hiking with his father, Fred Sibley, famous ornithologist at Yale University.
Often after hiking with his dad, David would sketch all the different birds he had encountered from memory. His bird-watching hobby became a life-long passion. Much so, that he dropped out of college at Cornell University to pursue the study of birds.
Through the past five decades, Sibley has drawn and painted thousands of species of birds. His love of birds and painting them has never wavered. It was his goal to one day publish a field guide book for other bird watchers. With encouragement from his wife, also an ornithologist, he spent 14 years traveling, researching and painting birds for the book.
His hard work paid off and his goal was achieved in 2000, when his first book, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds was published. Shortly after publication, his first volume was on the New York best seller list and David followed up that book with numerous other popular guide books.
Even after half a century of bird-watching, David Sibley continues to study and learn new things about his favorite topic. When he did research for his recent book, What’s It’s Like to Be a Bird, he became convinced of something he had not previously anticipated: “Birds routinely make complex decisions and experience emotions”. In this book, he also covers such topics as; Do birds have a good sense of smell? Where do birds go at night? Where do they sleep?
With over 8.7 million species of birds throughout the entire world, I’m pretty sure his latest bird book won’t be the last for this bird man of our century.