A Brilliant Batch of Bird Books


With even more books on the horizon, 2012 has already been a banner year for new bird books. One of our favorite new arrivals comes from naturalist, birder, and tracker Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World. Young draws on worldwide indigenous knowledge, and over 40 years in the field, to show how we can tune into the behavior of birds to learn important things about our immediate environment:

If we learn to read the birds — and their behaviors and vocalizations — through them we can read the world at large. Anyone with a working understanding of this discipline can approach an unknown habitat and quickly draw all sorts of ‘natural world’ conclusions. The types of birds seen or heard, their numbers and behaviors and vocalizations, will reveal the locations of running water or still water, dead trees, ripe fruit, a carcass, predators, fish runs, insect hatches, and so much more. The details of the habitat become very clear.

Here’s more from Jon Young on the knowledge you can glean from birds in your midst:

One of the first pleasant tasks for anyone interested in the methodology of bird language is to select a private place among the birds to visit as often as possible. It may be in the forest, the suburban or urban park, or the backyard. Regardless, it will be the main venue for figuring out what’s going on, for connecting the dots, for gathering the stories of the birds and their context.” — Jon Young

What the Robin Knows is a one-of-a-kind book, and an excellent volume to add to the Land Library’s ornithology shelves. As are these recent arrivals:

Kingfisher by David Chandler and Ian Llewellyn, a vivid natural history of the annual cycle of these fascinating waterside fishers, and Tim Birkhead’s Bird Sense: What It’s Like to be a Bird, full of surprising bits about bird’s sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, along with their detection of such forces as the magnetic field.

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The Urban Birder by David Lindo, a book that we’ve already posted twice about. London-based David Lindo is a powerful voice that celebrates nature-in-the-city; Derek Lovitch’s How to Be a Better Birder, an excellent book that presents the finer points to observing birds in the field — highlighting the importance of habitat, ecology, and even weather.

Peregrine Falcon by Patrick Stirling-Aird, from the same publishers of Kingfisher (above), another wonderfully illustrated natural history, this time of one of the world’s fastest raptors.

For more on the peregrine, here’s two of our earlier posts:

The Peregrine Sketchbook of C.F. Tunnicliffe

Assume the Stillness of a Tree, on J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine, one of the Land Library Book Club’s all-time favorite reads!


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