Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday books

I often get asked to recommend birding related books to give at the holidays. RRBO has a recommended book page -- and any purchase you make through the provided links to Amazon benefits RRBO research. I'd like to highlight a few of my favorites here.

My hands-down favorite general bird conservation book is Laura Erickson's 101 Ways to Help Birds. This engaging book explains exactly how 101 actions can make a difference to birds and bird populations -- what wrongs they help correct and what improvements they can bring about. They are things anyone can do around the home and garden, at work, at the store, in their community, in the outdoors, and on the road. Laura has a long career in bird education and conservation, and is currently a science writer at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She hits the spot with this one. I keep a copy at home and in the office.

My favorite local bird book is, of course, The Birds of Dearborn: An Annotated Checklist. Any birder in the region will benefit from the abundance and distribution data in the book. 'Nuff said.

My favorite children's book is Flute's Journey, a wonderful story of the migration of a Wood Thrush from the eastern U.S. to the tropics and the perils it faces. An introduction to Neotropical migrant conservation for kids!

My favorite habitat and gardening book is Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. This very readable book explains that when native plant species disappear, or are replaced by alien exotics, the insects that depend on them disappear, thus impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. It will motivate you -- and tell you how -- to transform your yard into great wildlife and bird habitat.

My favorite coffee table bird book is Birds in Flight: The Art and Science of How Birds Fly. Flight mechanics has always seemed a little dense to me, but this stunning book clearly explains it and illustrates it with amazing, beautiful photos and drawings. All the physiology and mechanics are there, plus the various ecological aspects of flight such as migration, feeding, communication -- it will captive and educate birders and non-birders alike, and reminds us all what makes our favorite creatures so unique and inspiring.

My favorite field guides are Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds: Eastern and Central and Sibley Birding Basics for beginners, and National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Fifth Edition for more advanced birders.

I love books and could go on and on, but these are my 2008 picks. You can find more choices at the RRBO site or search Amazon with the widget in the right sidebar. Happy holidays!


Mac said...

I have a very old copy of Peterson's Les Oiseaux de L'est de l'Amerique du Nord. It's invaluable - but in French (c/o my partner from Quebec). Hence it takes a while sometimes to figure what a bird eg Petit Fuligule (F - yesterday on the river by Belle Isle) is in English. I'm told the newer versions however are somewhat different with larger illustrations (,M1).

Julie Craves said...

Well, you get to brush up on your French! I retired my copy of Peterson when RTP himself signed it around 15 years ago.