David Sibley

in conversation with John Muir Laws

Recorded August 23th, 2020

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David Sibley in conversation with John Muir Laws

Sunday, August 23, 2020

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David Sibley’s new What it’s Like to Be a Bird is the definitive bird book for birders and nonbirders alike, one sure excite and inspire by providing a new, deeper understanding of what common, mostly backyard, birds are doing–and why.

David is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature that bear his name, including The Sibley Guide to Birds. He has contributed to Smithsonian, Science, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Birding, BirdWatching, and North American Birds, and to The New York Times. He is the recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Birding Association and the Linnaean Society of New York’s Eisenmann Medal. He lives and birds in Massachusetts.

John (Jack) Muir Laws has written and illustrated several books including How to Teach Nature Journaling, (co-authored with Emilie Lygren), The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (2016), The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker’s Guide (2004), and The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007). He is a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his “Naturalists Notebook” column.

Birds make any place a chance for discovery, they make a garden seem wild, they are a little bit of wilderness coming into a city park, and for a birdwatcher every walk is filled with anticipation. What feathered jewel might drop out of the sky next?

– David Sibley

Get ready to join David in conversation, Sunday August 23th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 7

    votes

    How has your field sketching style evolved over time? What’s your method/media for it now? Having seen birding evolve from a practice in which sketching was an accompaniment to one in which digital photography is integral to the birdwatching experience, does sketching still have power – something to add – to nature observation?

  • 7

    votes

    Have you observed changes in bird behavior which from your perspective are likely due to climate change?

  • 6

    votes

    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 6

    votes

    How did your fascination with birds start? What inspired you to delve into their lives?

  • 6

    votes

    Birds keep moving! And fast! How in the world do you manage to sketch them?

  • 4

    votes

    What’s your favorite compact binocular for use at home and away-from-home?

  • 4

    votes

    How has the pandemic affected your life? Your writing? Your love for the outdoors and animals?

  • 4

    votes

    What was the research and writing process like for your book “what its like to be a bird”? How long did the book take you to finish?

  • 3

    votes

    What function does nature journalying have in your life? What does it give you?

  • 3

    votes

    What is the best way to get started birdwatching?

  • 2

    votes

    What is the last thing you saw or read that moved you?

  • 2

    votes

    What impacts of climate change are foreseen for our bird populations, backyard and otherwise?

  • 2

    votes

    Do you work digitally as well as traditionally? If so, how do you determine which medium you’re going to use and for what purposes? ie. do you use digital as a sketching tool? do you use digital for any art for publication? And how do you like digital compared to traditional?

  • 2

    votes

    Does smoke from fires in California adversely affect birds and how?

  • 1

    votes

    David & Jack – have the two of you ever gone birding or bird-sketching together?!

  • 1

    votes

    I’ve been meaning to get out of the house and take more walks in nature but it is hard to find motivation. Does this ever happen to you?

  • 1

    votes

    Can you tell us which bird is your favorite one? And why? Or at least a very special bird for you

  • 1

    votes

    Where is your favorite bird watching site and why?

  • 1

    votes

    Hi. Recently, I noticed several birds with feet and beaks with colors that match. Are the colors of the beaks and feet tied together in any way?

  • 0

    votes

    How old were you when you began sketching birds and studying their lives

  • 0

    votes

    best way to get started?

  • 0

    votes

    Is your book influence by Thomas Nagel’s “What Is It Like To Be a Bat”, if so what ways?

  • 0

    votes

    I am newly into birds — all the time at home due to the pandemic has opened up the world of birds in my backyard to me! Thank you for your book. I’m wondering if you have crossed paths with kindred bird-fan and writer, Jonathan Franzen?

  • 0

    votes

    I’m wondering if birds are affected by the smoky air in the Bay Area due to the current fires. Thanks

  • 0

    votes

    Are birds really “bathing” in the bird bath?

  • 0

    votes

    Does JML know that his screen has a color menu showing up on the Zoom broadcast that is blocking some key parts of Davids illustrations. Just an artifact of the screen share for future reference.

  • 0

    votes

    Is there a way to order the book from Book Passage? It shows as backordered, which is fine, but I can’t seem to add to cart. Thanks!

  • 0

    votes

    So, regarding bathing…its like people. If one is going to a business meeting, one generally showers and shampoos to feel one is at their best for the day!!! Love, love it!

  • 0

    votes

    How do adult birds train fledglings to fly?

  • 0

    votes

    How can we order the book online, please? The website does not have an option to add to cart — says “backordered,” instead. Thank you — I’d like to buy it from you! 🙂