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Useful tools to help you improve the health of your landscape

Into the Nest

If you find yourself captivated by birds in your landscape, you are not alone. According to the latest research report from the USDA Forest Service, almost 68 million Americans participate in bird watching and photographing.   Even with a great pair of binoculars or an expensive camera with a huge telephoto lens, it can be hard to get a close look at these intriguing and diverse creatures.

Put your feet up and pull out your reading glasses, because a new book, Into The Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting and Family Lives of Familiar Birds, gives you a close-up look at over 30 common species of birds.  Written and photographed by bird experts, Laura Erickson and Marie Reid, Into the Nest, is another terrific book published by Storey Publishing.

Among their many credits, Erickson is the author of seven books on birds and Reid was the photo/illustrations editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Their incredible close-up photography and fascinating descriptions, offer an intimate look at the lives of birds we commonly see but know little about. After reading this book, you will feel like an expert.

Writing about Northern Mockingbirds, the authors note that an unattached male will often sing all night long especially during a full moon — haven’t we all been kept awake by one of these amorous birds? If his marathon singing is successful, the single male will attract a solo female and he will give chase. Should the female respond, the new couple will “tour” his territory, checking out potential nest sites and berry-producing shrubs and trees.

The writers detail the nesting and parenting stages that follow, with accompanying super close-up photos of newly hatched birds and young fledglings. One shot captures an adult Mockingbird feeding a katydid to its nestlings, whose eyes are still closed, but whose hungry mouths are fully functioning. You get the impression that the authors must have scaled many a tree to get these incredible shots.

Describing one of my favorite birds, the Cedar Waxwing, the authors comment on their incredibly social nature. These birds actually pass food to one another in a display of good manners and extraordinary generosity. While this behavior often occurs between pairs, the Waxwings may pass a berry back and forth between three or four birds, before one finally swallows the tasty morsel. Apparently this act may soften the fruit for easier digestion, especially in winter, while reinforcing the social bonds between birds.

Into the Nest offers an intimate view of the “secret” lives of birds.  After reading the book, no doubt you will be spending more time outdoors appreciating these feathered beauties.

From Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!