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Edge makes an excellent point. A book can provide too much information, especially for beginning and intermediate birders. Put another way, a beginning birder, who tries to learn all the fine points make have trouble sorting out the basic field marks. As I understand it, Christina expects to see a lot of life birds in Texas. In other words, she is a beginner at Texas birding, however skilled she may have become elsewhere. In my opinion, she should work first on the basic field marks of the birds that will be new to her in Texas -- especially those that are to be expected. (Learn the accidental Mexican strays later.) Pick a basic U.S. field guide, like the National Geographic, and work with that. Take along Sibley or some other basic guide for a different perspective when you are trying to solve a particular ID problem.

I also agree with Edge that the guides that use photos instead of illustrations are often not so helpful. With a few exceptions (e.g. Olsen and Larsson's gull book, which contains 800 photos for 43 species of gulls!) they tend to display many less plumages.

Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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