Birds Are Smarter than I Thought

We ooh and aah over their colorful plumage. We adore their antics. We marvel at their ability to soar, turn, and plummet. But how often do we admire birds for their intelligence? Read The Genius of Birds, and you’ll realize that being called a “bird brain” can be quite a compliment.

From fascinating behaviors to the minutest details of neurophysiology, author Jennifer Ackerman takes us on an incredible adventure into how birds think. Meet Alex, the African Grey Parrot who had a vocabulary of hundreds of English words, and knew how to use them. What’s more, he understood the concept, not only of numbers, but of zero.

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15 Birdy Things to Do When You Can’t Go Birding

Today I was going to write a post about the birding excursion I had planned for the weekend. I expected to show colorful ducks, tricky-to-ID waders, and perhaps some cute little songbirds I saw skulking in the nearby bushes. However…

2015-10-29 20.26.14I sprained my ankle last week. I wish I had a good story to relate, but I simply thought the ground was where it wasn’t. (Happily, I landed between the two thorn bushes!) As you can see, the bump was pretty impressive but the x-rays proved nothing was broken; now it’s simply a matter of time and patience. I’m sitting around with my foot elevated, popping anti-inflamatories and catching up on Facebook. I have to get better soon—our kids and grandkids are coming for Thanksgiving!

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Love Chickens? Read This!

once-upon-a-flock-coverBackyard chickens are pretty popular, and for good reason. What other pet delivers affection, entertainment, companionship, plus fertilizer and fresh, tasty eggs? If you’ve been smitten by the burb of a motherly hen—or if you’d like to know what it’s like to raise your own flock—have I got a treat for you!

Hasten thee to the library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Once Upon A Flock: Life With My Soulful Chickens, by Lauren Scheuer. (If that name sounds familiar, you might have read her delightful blog, Scratch and Peck.)

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The Bluebird Effect—Not Just Another Nature Book

The Bluebird Effect, by Julie Zickefoose

Maybe birding results from having a “collection gene.” (At least a bird collection—aka a “life list”—doesn’t take up any space on a shelf, and as a bonus, it never needs dusting.) I don’t just collect birds, I seem to also accumulate books. Like many birders I have a shelf full of delightful books, each chronicling the nature experiences of an author. From a Victorian lady’s garden journal to the a thin volume exploring the seasons of the north woods, I can immerse myself in the great outdoors from the comfort of my favorite chair.

I have to admit, however, that many of these books work equally well as sleeping pills. Reading detailed descriptions of the weeds on someone’s farm just doesn’t generate the page-turning anticipation of a good adventure story.

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Little-Known and Seldom-Seen

little known 1Do you really need another field guide to North American birds? Yes, you do. In fact, you need two of them—the sooner, the better. How many of your current field guides have entries for the Yellow-bellied Prairie Chicken, the Blunt-billed Woodpecker, or the Split Rail? None of them, I bet.

Do your current field guides explain how to correctly assemble the parts of a bird? I’m sure they don’t. Do you own a book explaining what to say to other birders while on a field trip? No? Well then…

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Birding Books for Kids

Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.

At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.

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I Loved “Red-Tails in Love”

Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park, by Marie Winn

red-tails-in-love-coverThere are a number of books that tell stories about nature. They describe birds and their behavior in ways that are accurate, but sadly boring. The reader is left thinking, “I guess you had to have been there.”

This book is different. Author Marie Winn writes with a gentle charm, leaving the reader smiling and content, yet yearning for more.

Winn starts with a lengthy prologue that sets the scene. I admit that I’m not overly fond of New York City, and I’ve never been to Central Park. Yet, after reading this book, I find myself eager to go and see for myself. In particular, I’d like to explore that portion of the park known as the Ramble, where one may spot migrating warblers in the elms and oaks and feed the birds at the Azalea Pond.

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