Saturday, November 20, 2010

New birdwatching book

Identifying and Feeding Birds by Bill Thompson III, ISBN-13/EAN: 9780618904440 ; $14.95, ISBN-10: 0618904441. Trade Paperback ; 256 pages.

If you don't have chickens, you may be enjoying watching wild birds. Bill Thompson packs this book with useful information from his years as a bird watcher and editor of Bird Watchers Digest. Great pictures, too. It's the latest in the Backyard Bird Guides collection of the Peterson Field Guide series.

The first half is devoted to general bird information. The reader gets all the basics of feeding, housing and making birds welcome. He takes on the common myths that circulate about backyard birds – they won’t starve if you’re out of town and can’t feed them, they won’t stop migrating, and more. He advises about the sick and injured birds that are likely to be part of the natural world the reader observes. The details of nesting boxes – how to construct them, where to place them, how to maintain them – encourage the reader to create homes for wild birds.

Thompson writes from a viewpoint of environmental consciousness. Habitat is primary in attracting birds. He includes a bird-friendly plant list.

The second half of the book is a guide to 125 Common Backyard Birds. It’s a convenient reference to have at hand.

Thompson shares his own practices. He puts out everything. Freezer-burned meat attracts vultures and hawks, as well as foxes and coyotes. Melon rinds, insect-infested food and the remains of the dead garden all cater to birds on his farm. He admits the meat might offend close neighbors and wouldn’t be for every birdwatcher.

He’s written a folksy but expert guide for novices or experienced backyard birdwatchers. I’ve already given one to a relative as a gift. Think Christmas.

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