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
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.