|Top: 1st Edition.|
Bottom: 2nd Edition.
Praise-worthy and a step up, I immediately noticed that most of the upperpart colors in the 2nd edition are more true-to-life, with truer grays, as opposed to the purplish-blue hues of the old edition. However, there are some color issues that are disturbing. The Laughing Gull appears too dark, as does the Slaty-backed and Heermann's Gull (which is also depicted as a bulky and blocky-looking bird). Frankly, I feel the 1st edition did these 3 species more justice.
Despite the gulls being in basic plumage and non-breeding condition, the reds appear too dark and maroon-like (consider the gonys spots, for instance, or the bills on some of the hooded gulls). The pink legs on the large white-headed gulls are grossly washed out. Slaty-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull are shown with brownish-gray legs. These color problems will hopefully be restored in the next printing. It could be my personal copy, but I couldn't help but notice that the Iceland Gull now appears darker than the Thayer's to its left (when in fact it should be the other way around).
One thing I was hoping to see in the new edition was juvenile plumages that appeared more crisp, patterned, and checkered where appropriate (such as some of the northern breeders -- specifically the white-wingers and the black-backed gulls).
|Lesser Black-backed plates. The underparts, tertials, upperwing coverts and scapulars |
are rather messy on the juvenile. This is unlike their plumage aspect
in late summer through early fall.
|American Herring plates. The head streaking (see 1st winter bird)|
appears random and somewhat chicken-scratched. This is also the case on a good deal of the adult plates.
|1st Edition 2nd Edition|
Overall, I feel the updated range maps, along with the pertinent notes and comments adjacent to the maps, should be reason enough to want this edition. The single column on "Gull Identification" on p. 200, along with the "Gull Topography" and "Bare Parts" plates (on pp. xxi and xxii) will be helpful for the beginning birder. But for identification purposes, and from a gull enthusiast's perspective, I don't feel the plates in the 2nd edition make gull identification any easier. In fact, in some ways, the average birder may feel the 2nd edition makes gulls appear even more intimidating.
I do want to end with emphasizing that this review is specifically on the gull section, and is not at all to be applied to the entire guide. Gulls could be a very tough family to draw and paint, and at the end, granted some color corrections take place, I think the gull accounts in David Sibley's 2nd addition are impactful. David Sibley's most recent work verifies that he's still one of the most impeccable artists of North American birds!