From Our President: Armchair Nature for Winter

Winter is not the greatest time to find and watch birds, thanks to cold, inclement weather. But it is a great time to read and learn about birds! Here are some book recommendations shared by other nature lovers. Finding an interesting bird book to expand our knowledge and interest in nature will be easy this year. Hope you enjoy the flights of mental imagery on the pages of some of these books!

Steve Gordon’s recommendation: “I just read a really nice little book, The Path by Chet Raymo (Walker & Co., 2003). It makes me remember the amazing wonder I felt as a child for small parts of my yard and the fields nearby.” The author teaches astronomy and physics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. His daily walks to and from work take him about one mile, including a stretch through a park. He ties the history of the universe and his town in with observations of stars, birds, plants, photosynthesis, and more. He has a good eye, ear, and mind. Through his story, he tells us of his feelings and knowledge of “place” at both a minute and universal scale. 

Jim Maloney recommends The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (Penguin Press, 2016). A New York Times bestseller, this book is not pretty prose about our favorite feathered friends. It succinctly summarizes studies of bird intelligence by informing us not only of the facts but also the history of the research and observations of the wonderful world of bird ingenuity.

There are many layers of information to increase our love, respect and appreciation for these wonderful animals. Jim also suggests this website for more bird book reviews: forbes.com/sites/grrlscientist/2017/01/09/the-twelve-best-books-about-birds-and-birding-in-2016/#252e95e938b0

We cannot overlook the books by two West Coast authors who presented programs for Lane Audubon in 2016: 

Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America by Stephen A. Shunk (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). Like other Peterson Reference Guides this is a guide to the natural history of these birds. With many excellent photos and interesting information on each of North America’s 23 woodpecker species, this is a treasure.

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls by Paul Bannick (The Mountaineers Books, 2016). Owl integrates more than 200 new intimate and dramatic images, up-to-date science about owls and first-hand experience based upon tens of thousands of hours spent with owls on their territories in the wild. Bannick continues to bring us into the lives of birds with his stunning photography.

Some other new books that have caught my attention via the Birder’s Library: birderslibrary.com/news/book_news/2016-bird-book-preview.htm

Bird Droppings: Writings About Watching Birds and Bird Watchers by Pete Dunne (Stackpole Books, 2016). A collection of new birding essays from the popular author of a dozen bird books. He is also a teacher and the director of Cape May Bird Observatory.

One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives by Bernd Heinrich (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). Heinrich is a retired biologist living in a cabin in the Maine woods. He is still observing birds and doing scientific research without leaving his own backyard.

Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific by Donald Kroodsma (Princeton University Press, 2016). Kroodsma’s previous books about birdsong—The Singing Life of Birds and Birdsong by the Seasons—are excellent. His new book is poignant and insightful, taking you on a travel adventure unlike any other—accompanied on every leg of your journey by birdsong.

Happy Winter Reading!