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 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 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 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 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 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.
Posted by Grant McCreary on January 16th, 2017.