I have long found birds to be fascinating creatures. I often find myself looking out the window and admiring murmurations of birds as they wheel through the sky. And I enjoy watching the birds that gather at the bird feeder along with my cats. In the last few years, there have been an abundance of books published about birds. Below are just a few that I would like to highlight. But before we dive in, you might be curious about the misspelling in the title of “Birbs” instead of “Birds.” I would direct you to this fantastic article by the National Audubon Society, “When Is a Bird a ‘Birb’? An Extremely Important Guide.” The basic rules, of course, are a bird must be small, round and cute to be considered a birb!
One of the more well-known researchers of birds and a new personal favorite on the topic of birds for me is David Allen Sibley. In Sibley’s book, “What It’s Like To Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing — What Birds Are Doing, and Why”, he presents unique facts about a wide variety of birds. Sibley also does all the illustrations. Did you know that pigeons are actually much smarter than you might think? They can be taught to read a mammogram as well as a human can.
If you’re interested in getting into bird-watching, but feel intimidated by traveling far, “Slow Birding: The Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard” author Joan E. Strassmann encourages you to slow down and notice the spectacular birds all around you. Each chapter explores a different common bird and includes activities for observing each bird. Learn what to watch for when looking at birds, listening to them sing and observing them at a bird feeder.
“The Private Lives of Public Birds: Learning to Listen to the Birds Where We Live” unveils the traits, quirks, histories and legends of 15 oft-sighted birds. Along with exploring the different bird’s traits, author Jack Gedney includes poems and famous quotes that relate to each bird.
If you would like to go further afield and learn about birds from all over the world, “Around the World in 80 Birds” by Mike Unwin is a great place to start. This book not only contains a plethora of information about birds around the world, it also has beautiful, full-color illustrations by Ryuto Miyake. These illustrations show the different life stages of birds from chick to adult and how the birds live in their environment.
“Bird: Exploring the Winged World” by Giovanni Aloi, presents a remarkable survey of the avian kingdom, celebrating the beauty and popular appeal of birds throughout 4000 years of art, history, ornithology and culture. This large coffee table book presents a large variety of art from artists both well-known and unknown, including the art piece “Soundsuit“ by Fulton native Nick Cave.
Another impressive coffee table book to check out is “Bird Planet: A Photographic Journey” by Tim Laman. This impressively large book contains photographs of birds from all around the world. Organized by country, most pages just contain photos but some include text to give more information about the birds pictured.
Spanning continents and millennia, “Birds and Us: A 12,000-Year History from Cave Art to Conservation” chronicles the earliest written histories of birds in ancient Greece and Rome, the obsession with falconry in the Middle Ages, and the development of ornithological science. Author Tim Birkhead explores our complicated relationship with birds, including the demise of the great auk, which was hunted to extinction by the mid-19th century.
If you enjoy illustrations of birds and colorful language you might just enjoy “Effin’ Birds: A Field Guide to Identification” by Aaron Reynolds. It offers help in identifying more than 200 birds with beautiful, scientifically accurate illustrations and a whole lot of swearing!
While I like to think that most people like birds, I’m sure there are some people that might feel differently. For people that don’t like birds, there’s something for you, too. In “The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America”, author Matt Kracht claims his book will help you identify over 50 annoying birds so that you can avoid them in the future. If there are still some species bothering you, consult Kracht’s second volume “The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World.”