“The Sibley Birds Coloring Field Journal.” Alfred A. Knopf. $19.95.

I’ve read that adult coloring books are meditative and relaxing, both qualities I am in discouragingly short supply of. Still, it’s a trend that has mostly puzzled me. But when “The Sibley Birds Coloring Field Journal” crossed my desk late last year, I thought to myself, now there’s a coloring book I could get into.

1136907_Sibley book scan.jpgI’m a wannabe birder. I’m fascinated by birds – their songs, their nests, their habits, their loveliness. Only this morning, a large hawk (pages 66-67, red-tailed hawk? 2.4 pounds) in my neighbor’s tree grabbed my attention and made me late to work. Yet I can barely identify a robin (page 35, weight 2.7 ounces), and every time I pick up a field guide or listen to a tape of bird songs, I feel wholly overwhelmed by how little I know and how much there is to know.

The solidly constructed “Sibley Birds Coloring Field Journal,” with 75 black and white line drawings of birds based on famed ornithologist David Sibley’s paintings, strikes me as another path into a subject that requires a daunting amount of memorization and often speed. As Sibley puts it in the introduction, “Drawing is, on one level, simply a different way to interact with whatever you are studying.”

The book provides each bird’s common and Latin names, as well as its dimensions and weight. Small images of the original paintings are included, should you want to color the birds accurately, and several pages in the back detail the birds’ beak shapes and feather groups. With this book, some colored pencils and a little effort, color me knowledgeable?


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