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There were many great bird-related books published in 2016, including some, I’m sure, that I didn’t even see. So making a list such as this is tricky at best, perhaps even foolish. In fact, I just read the introduction for Scarlet Experiment: Birds and Humans in America, which has me eager to read more. But I’ve waited long enough to post this (as I’ll explain shortly). So without further ado, here are my favorite books of the year.

 

  • Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American OwlsOwl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
    by Paul Bannick

    Simply open this book and it will be obvious why it’s on this list. The photos here are unparalleled. Plus, it’s a very interesting and informative read. Of the many, many owl books out there, this is one of the best and, in my experience, the best looking.

  • Hummingbirds: Volume 1Hummingbirds: Volume 1
    by John C. Arvin

    This is a large (ginormous, even), sumptuous volume covering the hummingbirds of North and Central America, along with the Caribbean. That alone should be enough! But such a book published independently by a conservation organization (Gorgas Science Foundation) – and at a reasonable price! – is noteworthy. I’m very much looking forward to the second volume and, greater still, hoping for many more such books published in the same model.

  • Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the NestBaby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest
    by Julie Zickefoose

    Any Julie Zickefoose book is an almost automatic inclusion on this list. All of them, and this one is no exception, are a delight to behold and a delight to read. I can’t ever decide which one more. And the fact that this book illustrates a stage of birds’ lives so rarely observed makes it all the better. For more, here’s my full review.

  • Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big YearLost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year
    by Neil Hayward

    Big year books seem to be published all the time now. This one stands out from the crowd not so much for the record-breaking birding, but because it’s about much more than birds. This is a story anyone – hard core birder, casual birder, even non-birder – can enjoy. For more, here’s my full review.

  • Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the PacificListening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific
    by Donald Kroodsma

    It took me quite some time to finish this book. (And I figured I ought to do so before posting this :) ) It sounds paradoxical, but it was partly because I was enjoying it so much. Plus, to get the full effect, you really must listen to the accompanying sound tracks while you read (which limits when you can do so in a house with small children!). But when I was able to devote the time to listen and read, it was incredible. You’re vicariously joining the author on his continent-spanning bike trip through both his words and bird sounds he recorded along the way. It’s almost as if you are listening to birds through Kroodsma’s ears – ears which are able to perceive and discern so much more than I ever could. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is the best book of the year, but it was the most enjoyable reading experience, and so my favorite book of the year.

by James A. Eaton, Bas van Balen, Nick W. Brickle, and Frank E. Rheindt

The region’s standard field guide for many years to come.

Read the full review »

Birder's Library 10th anniversary giveaway #2

Here’s the second giveaway in celebration of The Birder’s Library’s 10th anniversary – two books from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest is the latest from artist/author Julie Zickefoose. It’s a treat to look at and to read. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America is an excellent new field guide for Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

To enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for supplying the prizes!

Please be assured that any information collected will only be used to contact you regarding this contest – it will not be sold, used to send you spam, or anything else.

Fine print:

  • Contest ends December 18, 11:59pm eastern
  • Winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be notified after the contest ends. They will then have to provide a mailing address within 3 days of notification, or another winner may be chosen.
  • Anyone is eligible to enter. Winners in the United States will have the prizes shipped to them for free. Winners outside the US may be asked to cover some shipping costs.
  • There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
Anniversary Giveaway: Listening to a Continent Sing and The Unfeathered Bird

How better to celebrate this site’s 10th anniversary than to give away some books? For the first giveaway, we have two fantastic books from Princeton University Press: a new one and one of my favorite books from the past 10 years. Listening to a Continent Sing is one of my favorite books from this year; it’s just an enjoyable read, and you can’t help but learn a good bit about birdsong as it goes. The Unfeathered Bird could be the most surprising book I’ve seen since I started this site. I never would have imagined that a book about, well, birds without feathers could be so beautiful and so informative and relevant to birders.

And now you have a change to win both of them.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Princeton University Press for supplying the prizes!

Please be assured that any information collected will only be used to contact you regarding this contest – it will not be sold, used to send you spam, or anything else.

Fine print:

  • Contest ends December 12, 11:59pm eastern
  • Winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be notified after the contest ends. They will then have to provide a mailing address within 3 days of notification, or another winner may be chosen.
  • Anyone is eligible to enter. Winners in the United States will have the prizes shipped to them for free. Winners outside the US may be asked to cover some shipping costs.
  • There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

Looking for something to get for the bird-lover in your life? You can never go wrong with a good bird book. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American OwlsOwl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
    by Paul Bannick

    One look inside this book will tell you why anyone would appreciate it – the photos are stunning. Overall, the best owl pictures I’ve ever seen. And it’s a good read, too!

  • Hummingbirds: Volume 1Hummingbirds: Volume 1
    by John C. Arvin

    Huge, with amazing (roughly life-sized) paintings of every hummingbird to grace North America, Central America, and the Carribean.

  • The Sibley Birds Coloring Field JournalThe Sibley Birds Coloring Field Journal

    Everyone seems to like coloring these days. This book will allow you to color images from one of the best bird artists around, all the while teaching the user about the birds they’re coloring.

  • Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the NestBaby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest
    by Julie Zickefoose

    This book is just a delight – the art, words, design, everything about it.

  •  

    For avid readers:

    The Genius of Birds
    Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific
    Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year

     

    And for the world-traveling birders in your life:

    Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea
    Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America

It was 10 years ago this month that I launched The Birder’s Library. Even as I type this, I can’t believe it’s been that long! I knew very little about running a website…or design…or even about reviewing books. Honestly, I’m still learning all those things.

It’s been a great 10 years and I hope to continue as long as the site remains useful. To celebrate, I’ve lined up a couple of giveaways – keep an eye out for more details.

Finally, if you want a good laugh, this is what the website looked like when it launched. No WordPress, just all (painfully) hand-modified html. Ugh

The Birder's Library version 1.0

by Jennifer Ackerman

This interesting and eminently readable book provides more evidence of the awesomeness of birds .

Read the full review »

Animals of Kruger National ParkAnimals of Kruger National Park
by Keith Barnes

From Princeton University Press:

South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most diverse conservation areas in Africa, and a hugely popular visitor attraction. Animals of Kruger National Park is a compact and beautifully illustrated guide, and the essential companion for any safari to the region. With an eye-catching design, authoritative and accessible text and easy-to-use format, this detailed photographic guide provides information on identification, habitat, behaviour, biology and conservation for all the mammals, reptiles and frogs likely to be seen. Introductory sections provide background information on the park and its habitats, when to visit and where to go, and other practical considerations that will help to enhance your understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the animals of this incredible region.

  • The essential all-in-one Kruger safari companion, ideal for all visitors
  • Unique and attractive layout, featuring 216 stunning colour photographs, 116 track (spoor) illustrations and two maps
  • Covers 57 mammals, 17 reptiles and eight frogs
  • Features the ‘Big 5’–elephants, leopards, lions, rhinoceroses and buffalos–as well as other iconic and charismatic animals
  • Provides key information on identification, behaviour, biology and conservation

 

This is another excellent entry in the Princeton WILDGuides series. It will not only help you identify the mammals, reptiles, and frogs you’re most likely to see, but it will also teach you about their natural history and the region as a whole. Highly recommended to anyone going to Kruger or the surrounding area.

 

Animals of Kruger National Park
by Keith Barnes
Paperback; 176 pages
Princeton University Press; September 6, 2016
ISBN: 9780691161785
$27.95

by Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson, and John Fanshawe

This is “the” guide to use for this important birding area.

Read the full review »

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American OwlsOwl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
by Paul Bannick

From Mountaineers Books:

In Owl, award-winning photographer Paul Bannick uses his intimate yet dramatic images to track four different nesting owl species, Northern Pygmy, Burrowing, Great Gray, and Snowy, throughout the course of one year and in four distinct habitats. Readers follow along at the nest as each stage in an owl’s life is chronicled: courtship, mating, and nesting in spring; fledging and feeding of young in summer; dispersal and learning independence in fall; and finally, winter’s migration.

 

This book is worth buying for the photos alone. Stunning! But it’s also a good introduction to the lives of owls, with emphasis placed on four species that showcase the diversity of owl behaviors and habitats. Bannick has spent many an hour in the field with these birds, and that clearly comes through in both his pictures and his words.

 

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls
by Paul Bannick
Hardcover; 224 pages
Mountaineers Books; October 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781594858000
$34.95