Books about birds of Chicagoland, birds of the Sierra Nevada, and birds that talk back

12/4/2013 | 0

Art of Migration 660x504What does it take to know wild birds well? According to biologist, photographer, and author Budd Titlow, it takes healthy conversation.

“Wild birds are my friends,” he writes in his picture book Bird Brains. “I like talking to them.” And the birds, he says, listen. “They often talk — or more correctly, call or sing — back to me while I’m standing there watching them.”

Bird Brains 171x214Perhaps as a result of such intimate observation, Titlow’s book is filled with close-up photos and brims with insights into the antics and idiosyncrasies of birds usually seen only from a distance in the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Northeast, and southern states.

Peggy Macnamara, we bet, would argue that what really matters is location, location, location. As artist-in-residence at Chicago’s Field Museum, she has access to the scientists and collections of one of the nation’s preeminent research organizations, while outside the museum, she can observe one of the continent’s greatest natural spectacles — the migration of hawks, hummingbirds, cranes, and hundreds of other birds along the Mississippi Flyway.

In lovely, brightly colored watercolors in The Art of Migration, Macnamara reminds us that even in one of the most heavily developed areas of the United States, you can still find dog-day cicadas, banded woolly-bears, kinglets, nighthawks, Snowy Owls, and countless other beautiful and wild creatures. Thank goodness.

Edward C. Beedy and Edward R. Pandolfino have reached a similar conclusion about the Sierra Nevada. Time spent there, they write in Birds of the Sierra Nevada, can be timeless, “a healthy bit of immortality captured in a single day.” Their book updates what we know about all 442 birds that have been recorded in the Sierra and will deepen the experience of visits to the range for serious ornithologists and casual hikers alike.

Books about behavior and biology:

Birds of Sierra 171x244The Art of Migration: Birds, Insects, and the Changing Seasons in Chicagoland
AUTHORS: Peggy Macnamara, paintings, John Bates and James H. Boone, text
PUBLISHER: University of Chicago Press, 2013
204 pages, $25 cloth, $18 ebook

Bird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends
AUTHOR: Budd Titlow
PUBLISHER: Lyons Press, 2013
224 pages, $29.95 hardcover

Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution
AUTHORS: Edward C. Beedy, Edward R. Pandolfino, Keith Hansen, illustrations
PUBLISHER: University of California Press, 2013
446 pages, $39.95 paper, PDF

Publishers and authors:

If you’ve brought out a book that we should consider reviewing, send it here:

BirdWatching Magazine
Madavor Media, LLC.
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Braintree, MA 02184
mail@birdwatchingdaily.com