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Guides about birdsong and photography, and more books for birders

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Common Yellowthroat. Photo by Michael Rossacci
Common Yellowthroats are one of more than 700 species featured in Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist: Your Guide to Listening. Photo by Michael Rossacci

The “Bookshelf” section of our May/June 2020 issue featured reviews of guides about birdsong and photography and other books for birders.

Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist: Your Guide to ListeningBirdsong for the Curious Naturalist: Your Guide to Listening, by Donald Kroodsma, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, hardcover, 208 pages, $27.

Ornithologist Don Kroodsma, the world’s leading expert on birdsong and the author of four previous books on the topic, shares his knowledge in this new guide about how to listen to birds. The text is accompanied by color photos of the birds and QR codes that readers can scan, linking to an online collection of more than 700 recordings (at In addition to teaching what to listen for, Kroodsma explains what various calls mean and why and how birds sing. 

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Bird Love: The Family Life of BirdsBird Love: The Family Life of Birds, by Wenfei Tong, Princeton University Press, 2020, hardcover, 192 pages, $29.95.

The world’s birds have an extraordinary range of mating systems, and this gorgeous and expertly written book explains them all. Author Wenfei Tong covers courtship, nests and eggs, raising chicks, group breeding, and more. She considers why some species, such as the Wattled Jacana, rely on males to do all the childcare, while others, such as cuckoos and honeyguides, dump their eggs in the nests of others to raise. It’s a beautifully designed book on an endlessly fascinating topic. 

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Photography: Birds: Field Techniques and the Art of the ImagePhotography: Birds: Field Techniques and the Art of the Image, by Gerrit Vyn, Mountaineers Books, 2020, paperback, 256 pages, $24.95.

Gerrit Vyn, an award-winning bird photographer, videographer, and sound recorder, is well known for his work for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In this new guide, he reveals his methods and shares how to photograph birds based on location, behavior, identification, and storytelling. Vyn details the range of technical considerations, giving clear instruction and advice, as well as the creative decisions a photographer must make on lighting, framing, timing, and motion. 

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Hawai‘iAmerican Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Hawai‘i, by Helen Raine and André F. Raine, Scott & Nix, Inc., 2020, flexibound, $24.95.

The latest addition to the series of ABA state field guides covers the unique birdlife of Hawai‘i. The authors present an overview of the state’s birds — the abundant exotics and the spectacular, often rare endemics. They give snapshots of 22 birding hotspots on the six main islands, and they offer detailed discussions of 139 species, including all 34 remaining endemics and subspecies and all native breeding species. This is an invaluable resource for any local or visiting birder.

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think, by Jennifer Ackerman, Penguin Press, 2020, hardcover, 368 pages, $28.

Birders should take notice whenever Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds, publishes a new title. The Bird Way looks at how birds are wired and their behaviors that until recently were dismissed as anomalies or mysteries. What scientists are finding, she writes, is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, and survive. They’re also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities from deception to cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play. 

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Every Penguin in the WorldEvery Penguin in the World, by Charles Bergman, Sasquatch Books, 2020, hardcover, 224 pages, $22.95.

In the January/February 2018 issue of this magazine, Charles Bergman told the engaging, awe-inspiring story of searching for the world’s 18 penguin species — to see them all in the wild. This books tells the full story of Bergman and his wife’s penguin quest — from the Galápagos to South Africa to the Antarctic. The book is organized around themes of adventure, science and conservation, and pilgrimage, and throughout, Bergman tells stories of each penguin species. We meet the small and elusive Fiordlan Penguin, which spends six months of the year in the Tasman Sea, the surf-loving Gentoo Penguin, and the engaging King Penguin.

The penguin quest: A search for all 18 species

Learn more at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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