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Humorous new books answer birders’ burning questions, show rarely seen birds

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The Scroobious Bird, by Edward Lear
The Scroobious Bird, by Edward Lear

Owning a bird-specialty store is serious, hard work, but you’d never know it from the writings of Mike O’Connor. He’s the owner of the Bird Watcher’s General Store on Cape Cod and the author of a popular weekly newspaper column in which he fields all manner of burning and bizarre questions about birds, birders, and birdwatching.

Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me? is the second welcome collection of O’Connor’s humorous and informative answers. The first was the 2007 book Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? If you paid careful attention to product placements in the movie The Big Year, you saw the book: Jack Black’s character was reading it on the airplane. And laughing.

We’re willing to bet that a slim volume of nonsense birds by Edward Lear and a field-guide parody illustrated by John Sill would have made him laugh, too.

Humorous books about birds

WhyDoBluebirdsHateMe-171Edward Lear’s Nonsense Birds
AUTHOR: Edward Lear
PUBLISHER: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2013
80 pages, $27.50 cloth

A Field Guide to Little-Known & Seldom-Seen Birds of North America, 2nd Edition
AUTHORS: Cathryn Sill, Ben Sill, John Sill
PUBLISHER: Peachtree Publishers, 2013
100 pages, $11.95 paper

Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me? More Answers to Common and Not-So-Common Questions About Birds and Birding
AUTHOR: Mike O’Connor
PUBLISHER: Beacon Press, 2013
192 pages, $14 paper

LittleKnown-171Lear, who lived from 1812 to 1888, earned his keep, and much praise, as a draughtsman and illustrator. His meticulously rendered Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae, or Parrots (1832) garnered him a nomination as an Associate of the august Linnean Society of London. But he’s remembered mostly for his whimsical verse, including the poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.”


His Obsequious Ornamental Ostrich, Runcible Bird, and Scroobious Bird (above), and all the other fanciful birds assembled in Edward Lear’s Nonsense Birds, are a delight.

Sill’s exquisite paintings have been exhibited in the prestigious Birds in Art Exhibition in Wausau, Wisconsin, and published in calendars from Mass Audubon, the first Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas, and other serious books, as well as in the pages of this magazine.

His renderings of Warbling Cormorant, Blunt-billed Woodpecker, Spoon-billed Hummingbird, Military Warbler, and other nonexistent birds help make Little-Known and Seldom-Seen Birds of North America the funniest field guide you’ll ever buy.

BW1213_Cover_171x223Publishers and authors:

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


BirdWatching Magazine
Madavor Media, LLC.
25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 404
Braintree, MA 02184
[email protected]


Originally Published

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