“The Birder’s Handbook”
Whether you are an avid gardener or you simply enjoy the outdoors, then you probably have an appreciation of wild birds. What better way to wake up in the morning than to the sweet song of a bird. Who doesn’t love the feisty antics of a hummingbird, the boldness of a tiny chickadee, or the awesome power of a raptor? The world would not be the same without birds, but sadly, many of our bird species are in trouble. There is a lot we can do to help birds in own landscapes, but first we have to get to know the species around us.
With over 800 wild bird species in North America, and over 600 species breeding here, there is a lot to know. Wouldn’t it be great to have a book that covered 646 species of birds that breed in North America, with succinct and useful information? That book exists – The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Published in 1988, this book was written by Paul Erlich, David Dobkin and Darryl Wheye. It’s “an oldie but a goodie” recommended to me a few years ago by a serious birder as one of the best bird books around.
This is not an “ID” book – that is left to one of the many great bird identification/field guides and the Internet. In fact The Birder’s Handbook does not have any photos – what it does have is a treasure trove of information about the lives of 646 bird species packed into 785 pages.
The use of symbols in the book helps to keep the entries succinct but chock-full of details including: nest location, nest type, who builds the nest (male or female), how many eggs are laid, whether the eggs are marked or unmarked, the mating system (monogamy or….), which gender(s) incubate the eggs, the length of incubation, time from hatchling to fledging, foraging techniques, etc.
The text describing each species covers: breeding areas, courting displays, eggs, diet, conservation, etc. There are many essays sprinkled throughout the book including fascinating entries like: “Bird Milk” (yes, really!), “Copulation” (the saucy side of birding) “Hoarding Food,” “Superspecies,” “Our Only Native Parrot,” “Polygamy,” and “Altruism.”
If you wonder why a bird does something, how it lives, what it eats, what it hears, and so on, you will find this book irresistible. The bonus – once you have a better comprehension of the birds in your area, you will be far better equipped to provide them with the habitat and resources they need.
Pick up a new or used copy on Amazon for as little as $5 with shipping. It’s a great investment.
From Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!
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