Books, Books, Books

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Are you reading a lot these days of social isolation? I read that an average of one bird book a day is published in the U.S. Seems like it because there sure are a lot of bird books out there and they seem to be arriving at an unwavering pace. There are field guides, like the Field Guide to Birds of Hawaii, the second edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, and Birds of the Carolinas. Along with those are some silly ones such as The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America and Effin’ Birds:A Field Guide to Identification, and those with a narrow focus such as the Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America.

Some center on one bird or a small group of birds, including Sky Dance of the Woodcock, Antpittas and Gnateaters, and Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds. Recently there have been some books published that deal with birds’ abilities and adaptations such as What It’s Like to Be a Bird, the Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior, the Bird Way, Bird Sense and Bird Senses, and my book, if I may, Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs.

Of course, there are books on birding – Parking Lot Birding, Big Years, Biggest States, Every Penguin in the World, and Birding Without Borders, and books about adventures in birding such as Kingbird Highway, the Delightful Horror of Family Birding, The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, and Warblers and Woodpeckers.

And, of course, gorgeous coffee table books

And there are so many more, I can’t begin to list them. Nor do I read most of them, except the science-based ones. Books like The Penguin Lessons, about a rescued penguin and his rescuer and Wesley the Owl, a bird adopted by the author, seem treacly and don’t interest me. I did try to read H is for Hawk, but dozed off a little way into it. Same thing with Soaring with Fidel. Too much sentimentality and self-reference and not enough science for me.

I’ll read anything by Scott Weidensaul, however, like Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding and Living on the Wind. Not only are they full of interesting information, well researched, but also extremely well written. I’ve birded with Scott and heard him speak; very impressive ornithologist all around. Tim Birkhead wrote Bird Sense, The Wisdom of Birds, The Most Perfect Thing, The Wonderful Mr. Willughby, and Ten Thousand Birds, whichI’ve enthusiastically read. Like Scott, Tim is an excellent speaker; you can find him on YouTube.

You think you have read a lot of bird books? Go to Avian Review which displays over 4200 of them. It’s a few years out of date and has information on organisms other than birds, but interesting anyway. And if your library has some empty shelves, go to Fatbirder’s  Bird Book Publishers page. Yes, there really is a FatBirder site and it’s probably the best ornithological site on the web, other than mine,, of course.

So use these pandemic days cooped up in your abode to catch up on your reading and if you do nothing but read bird books, you’ll be entertained for years.

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