Posted by: montclairlibrary | August 4, 2021

For the Birds: Books about birds and birders

OPL recently hosted a book launch for Alex Harris’s new book, Birds of Lake Merritt, “a richly illustrated birding guide to the nation’s first official wildlife refuge.”

The world of birds is wide and fascinating, from obsessive bird watchers to birds that navigate huge swathes of the globe without a map to the romances and intrigues of the birds in your own backyard. Here are 12 more books to help you learn more about the lives of birds and those who observe them.

If reading about birds makes you want to make your outside space more bird-friendly, this post from the OPL blog from December 2020 has lots of book recommendations.

Note: Descriptions are from the OPL catalog except where noted, although they may be condensed or edited for clarity.

Bird books for grown-ups, a list from the Friends of Montclair Library

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (598 ACKERMAN)
“Beyond highlighting how birds use their unique genius in technical ways, Ackerman points out the impressive social smarts of birds. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They display a strong sense of fairness. They give gifts. They play keep-away and tug-of-war. They tease. They share. They cultivate social networks. They vie for status. They kiss to console one another. They teach their young. They blackmail their parents. They alert one another to danger. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve. This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science.” (See also Ackerman’s The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent and Think)

Birds of Berkeley by Oliver James (598.09794 JAMES)
This charming, full-color field guide to 25 birds easily found in Berkeley proves that even the city’s avian residents are a little quirky. James takes a delightfully creative approach to his write-ups of each species, inviting you to imagine that a Cooper’s Hawk, for example, is Steve McQueen in a ’68 Mustang, and you, “a pigeon in a rental car with a poor turning radius,” are fleeing through traffic.

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human by Noah Strycker (598.07234 STRYCKER)
A fun and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world–and deep connection with humanity.

Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins (821.008 BRIGHT)
A former U.S. poet laureate joins a top bird illustrator to create a collection of images and classic and contemporary verse devoted to a variety of birds, in an array that include poems by Chaucer, Robert Browning, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, John Updike, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens and many more.

Bird Sense: What It’s Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead (598 BIRKHEAD)
Describes the senses of birds that enable them to interpret their environments and interact with one another, drawing on cutting-edge science to explain how bird senses compare with those of humans and how they are able to detect distant and extraordinary elements from an upcoming storm to the Earth’s magnetic field.

Bird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends by Budd Titlow (ebook)
Through a hundred short vignettes, Bird Brains looks at the antics, behaviors and idiosyncrasies of wild birds and the often wild and wacky lives of birders–those who are always ready and willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice and “twitch off” to some exotic locations just to add another checkmark to their life lists.

Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend and Superstition by Peter Tate (398.24528 TATE)
A beautifully illustrated odyssey into the world of birds looks at the myths, legends, and superstitions surrounding some of the world’s best-known birds, drawing on traditions from every corner of the globe to explore the stories of some thirty avian species, from doves and geese to cranes and blackbirds.

Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest and the Biggest Year in the World by Noah Strycker (598.07234 STRYCKER)
The author tells the story of how he traveled across forty-one countries in an attempt to see half of the world’s birds in one year, sharing the challenges that he faced, as well as the birds and bird-lovers he found on the way.

The Meaning of Birds by Simon Barnes (598 BARNES)
An illustrated examination of the lives of birds looks at how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year; the uses of feathers; what the migration of birds can tell us about climate change; and much more.

City Birding: True Tales of Birds and Birdwatching in Unexpected Places by Kenn Kaufman (598.07234 CITY)
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the French Quarter of New Orleans, some of the country’s best-known birders observe birds in places where thriving bird life comes as a surprise in this funny, informative and thought-provoking collection of true stories.

What It’s Like To Be A Bird : What Birds Are Doing, And Why — From Flying To Nesting, Eating To Singing by David Allen Sibley (598 SIBLEY)
This book answers the important questions, like “Can birds smell?” and “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” Covers more than 200 species, many of them with life-size illustrations.

The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose (598.07234 ZICKEFOOS)
A wild bird rehabilitator and nature artist describes her painstaking efforts to rescue injured birds and her experiences when those birds come back to visit, looking at the personality and quirks of individual birds of different species


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