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The Joys of Birds and Birding: A Library Program and Reading List

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The Joys of Birds and Birding: A Library Program and Reading List

birds and birding

Whether brightening a dull gray day with a flash of color as they fly by or signaling the dawn of a spring day with their cheery chirping, birds undoubtedly make the world more interesting. These little winged emissaries fascinate us in every way, including the  incredible distances and travel around the world during their migrations.

Bird watching is an increasingly popular hobby and New Jersey is one of the best states in the country for birdwatching because of our diverse habitats and our location in the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route along the Eastern Seaboard. Even if you are not a seasoned birdwatcher, simple activities like backyard bird feeding or casually observing the feathered friends visiting your yard may offer you relaxation and comfort.

Spring is the beginning of birding season for many backyard birding enthusiasts. It’s when bluebirds start to think about raising a family here in New Jersey and when hummingbirds begin their long journeys north to the US from Central and South America.   Bluebird populations have made an incredible comeback in the last 50 years and hummingbirds have migration patterns that are absolutely amazing.

Many of us have questions about attracting these fascinating birds to our yards and supporting their habitats. 

On Monday May 13 at 7pm, join us for an interactive talk entitled Bluebirds & Hummingbirds: In My Backyard? by Jim Walker, a 35 year bird enthusiast & owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in Denville, will provide audiences with fun and interesting information about the behaviors and habits of these beautiful birds.

Jim will also discuss these birds’ nesting habits, ways to attract them to backyards, and what food to offer them, as well as share several fun facts about them. 

Here are some nonfiction reads on our feathered friends, on the sad decline of bird populations, as well as on the joyful pursuit of birdwatching and birding, available to borrow with your Livingston Library card.

attracting and feeding hummingbirds

Attracting & Feeding Hummingbirds by Stan Tekiela

Find out how to make your yard into a habitat that hummingbirds will love.  The handy book is divided into three main sections. First, you’ll learn all about hummingbirds: facts, range, habitat, songs, nests, and more. Up next, you’ll be introduced to the feeding solution that keeps hummingbirds coming back. In the third section, Stan tells you which feeders hummingbirds prefer and why. You’ll also be given information on placing feeders and cleaning feeders.

The Backyard Bird Chronicles by Amy Tan

In 2016, author Amy Tan grew overwhelmed by the state of the world: Hatred and misinformation became a daily presence on social media, and the country felt more divisive than ever. In search of peace, Tan turned toward the natural world just beyond her window and, specifically, the birds flocking to the feeders in her yard. But what began as an attempt to find solace turned into something far greater–an opportunity to savor quiet moments during a volatile time, connect to nature in a meaningful way, and imagine the intricate lives of the birds she admired.

The Backyard Birdwatcher’s Bible by Christopher M. Perrins

An informative and eye-catching reference book for beginner and intermediate backyard bird enthusiasts.  An elegant aesthetic is paired with practical tips on identifying, attracting, and caring for backyard birds, as well as crafting bird-friendly gardens and bird houses. With additional sections focused on everything from the bird life cycle to bird behavior, symbolism, and meaning in art, this authoritative book is brimming with engaging answers to all of your birdwatching questions.

Birding Basics : Tips, Tools & Techniques for Great Bird-Watching by Noah K. Strycker

Not a field guide but a primer in best practices, authored by birding expert Noah Strycker, this breezy book features easy-to-follow advice on what to look and listen for, how to use field guides and birding apps, the best equipment to start with, and ways to engage with other birders around the world. Filled with fun facts and seasoned advice, this useful book will help you attract birds to your backyard, master bird identification, name a bird by its song, and witness the magic of migration. 

Birds of New Jersey: Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

This handy book features 128 species of New Jersey birds organized by color for ease of use. Full-page photographs present the species as you’ll see them in nature, and a “compare” feature helps you to decide between look-alikes.

Book of North American Birds : An Illustrated Guide to More Than 600 Species

Colored and detailed illustrations. Discover nesting habits, preferred foods, favorite habitats, and background stories for each and every bird.

conversations with birds

Conversations with Birds : the Metaphysics of Bird and Human Communication by Alan Powers

Discusses specific birdtalk techniques and offers insights into many species. Looks at the long-standing tradition of “avitherapy” throughout history and in literature and the arts. Explains how song-talk with birds restores peace, calms anxiety, and enhances health.

The Feminist Bird Club’s Birding for a Better World : a Guide to Finding Joy and Community in Nature by Molly Adams

Birds are infinitely fascinating and inspiring, and can be found everywhere from forests to city parks to suburban backyards. Birding not only grounds us in our natural environment but is shown to reduce stress and support our mental well-being. It’s something that can be done alone or in community, by anyone, anytime. Feminist Bird Club organizers Molly Adams and Sydney Golden Anderson expand on those ideas, discussing how the simple and timeless activity of birding is both deeply connected to issues of social and environmental justice and a meaningful way to experience joy.

Flight Paths : How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration by Rebecca Heisman

The never-before-told story of how a group of migration-obsessed scientists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries engaged nearly every branch of science to understand bird migration–from where and when they take off to their flight paths and behaviors, their destinations and the challenges they encounter getting there.

How to Attract Birds to Your Garden : [Foods They Like, Plants They Love, Shelter They Need] by Dan Rouse

Rouse’s  book is rich with information about the bird life cycles, behaviors, and breeding patterns that become the basis for the habitat readers can design for their feathered friends. Readers will learn, for instance, how birds’ feet and beaks determine the types of food and feeders they are attracted to, along with tons of other information for making a comfortable and safe home for birds. 

The Joy of Birding : A Beginner’s Guide by Kate Rowinski

This colorful and unique guide combines the best of all birding books–it offers basic instructions for beginning birders, a key for identifying popular birds, and tips for attracting beautiful winged visitors to your neighborhood and backyard.

North American Bird Watching for Beginners : Field Notes on 150 Species to Start Your Birding Adventures by Sharon Stiteler

From the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird to the powerful bald eagle, there’s a fascinating variety of unique and beautiful birds that call North America home. This compact field guide is the perfect introduction to birding. You’ll find essential information about 150 North American species and expert advice on how to get started on your bird-watching journey.

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100 Plants to Feed the Birds : Turn Your Home Garden Into a Healthy Bird Habitat by Laura Erickson

In-depth profiles offer planting and care guidance for 100 native plant species that provide food and shelter for birds throughout the year, from winter all the way through breeding and migrating periods.

Pocket Birds of North America:Eastern Region

A photographic reference that covers more than 420 species–all birds that breed or are regularly seen in the eastern region of North America–and includes information on behavior, nesting, and habitat.

A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching : Getting To Know the World’s Most Misunderstood Bird by Rosemary Mosco

Mosco, a bird-lover, science communicator, writer, and cartoonist is here to give the pigeon’s image a makeover, and to help every town- and city-dweller get closer to nature by discovering the joys of birding through pigeon-watching.  Fact: Pigeons are amazing, and until recently, humans adored them. We’ve kept them as pets, held pigeon beauty contests, raced them, used them to carry messages over battlefields, harvested their poop to fertilize our crops-and cooked them in gourmet dishes. Now, with this book, readers can rediscover the wonder.

The Secret Perfume of Birds : Uncovering the Science of Avian Scent by Danielle J. Whittaker

Birds are capable of detecting scents, and those scents and the microbiome that creates them are pivotal drivers of avian evolution. The author explains how birds produce complex chemical signals that are important to their social and reproductive behavior.

Slow Birding : the Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard by Joan Strassmann

Many birders travel far and wide to popular birding destinations to catch sight of rare or “exotic” birds. Evolutionary biologist Strassmann introduces readers to the joys of birding right where they are. In this inspiring guide to the art of slow birding, Strassmann tells colorful stories of the most common birds to be found in the United States-birds we often see but might not have considered deeply before.

Magazines on birds and birdwatching are available to borrow on OverDrive/Libby

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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