The Best Bird Books of 2015

Actually, this is more a list of my favorite bird books of the year. I saw many books in 2015, but not nearly all of them. Certainly not enough to claim this list as comprehensive.


  • Water Babies: The Hidden Lives of Baby Wetland BirdsWater Babies: The Hidden Lives of Baby Wetland Birds
    by William Burt

    Wonderful photos of baby ducks, grebes, shorebirds, herons, and other water birds. The cuteness factor is undeniable, but it’s also a treat to get a glimpse into a part of these birds’ life cycle that we rarely, if ever, get to see. Burt’s short accounts are a fun read, providing information about the birds and insight into what it takes to get such fantastic photographs.

  • The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to NatureThe Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature
    by Gerrit Vyn and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    Like Water Babies, this book is a photographic showcase that is also worth reading. Vyn’s photographs are amazing, reason enough to include The Living Bird in this list. The three essays explore the diversity of birds, how they inspire us, and how they serve as indicators of issues that affect us all. All of this serves to get readers invested in birds, in preparation for the book’s ultimate message: birds are in trouble, but there are things that we can do to help. For more on this book, see my full review.

  • Cuckoo: Cheating by NatureCuckoo: Cheating by Nature
    by Nick Davies

    Cuckoo is a wonderful bit of natural history writing. Brood parasitism is an interesting subject to begin with, and Davies tackles it in a clear, logical, easy-to-understand way. Even if the only cuckoo you’ve seen is on a clock, you should still enjoy this book.

  • The Warbler Guide appThe Warbler Guide app
    by Tom Stephenson, Scott Whittle, and Princeton University Press

    Ok, so this isn’t a book, nor was it released in 2015 (it was late December, 2014). I don’t care; I love this app and want to call attention to it. To start with, it does its job – helping users identify warblers – incredibly well. The sound files and filters alone are worth it. But more importantly, this app, more than any other currently on the market, demonstrates what is possible with digital field guides. For instance, you don’t just get one or two static pictures of the bird, you get a full-on 3d model that you can rotate or move about any way you wish. The Warbler Guide is one of the best bird family ID guides, and now the app based on it is one of the best bird apps you can have on your device.

  • Bird Families of the WorldBird Families of the World: A Guide to the Spectacular Diversity of Birds
    by David W. Winkler, Shawn M. Billerman, and Irby J. Lovette

    This is a family-by-family account of the order Aves. It broadly summarizes a range of natural history information, but focuses on relationships. In other words, taxonomy: to some a fascinating subject, to others a dirty word. But if you have any interest in the subject at all, this volume should prove enlightening and valuable.

  • Birds, Art and DesignBirds, Art & Design
    by Larry Barth

    One of my favorite things about running this website is discovering books that I never would have otherwise. A few of these have been absolute treasures. This is one such book. It presents a sampling of Barth’s bird sculptures, which are simply amazing. Even better, the artist takes us behind the scenes, as it were, providing insight into the inspiration behind the piece and how it was made. For more on this book, which is my favorite from last year, see my full review.

Posted by Grant McCreary on January 31st, 2016.

Category: Features

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