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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

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.

On May 1st at 7pm, in the program “The Joys of Backyard Birding”, Jim Walker, a 35 year bird enthusiast & owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in Denville, will share ways on attracting more birds through food, water, and shelter, and show how to make feeding birds that visit your backyard more enjoyable. 

Jim will help identify exactly which food and feeder combinations will attract the widest variety of birds (Cardinals, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Juncos, Woodpeckers and more) to your backyard…regardless of the season.

He will also offer guidance on how to maintain a safer, healthier environment for the birds and nature as a whole, and ways to avoid common bird feeding mistakes. Jim will also bring in some examples of feeders along with a feeding station set up. 

Here are some recent 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.

around the world in 80 birds

Around The World In 80 Birds by Mike Unwin

This beautiful and inspiring book tells the stories of 80 birds around the world: from the Sociable Weaver Bird in Namibia which constructs huge, multi-nest ‘apartment blocks’ in the desert, to the Bar-headed Goose of China, one of the highest-flying migrants which crosses the Himalayas twice a year. Many birds come steeped in folklore and myth, some are national emblems and a few have inspired scientific revelation or daring conservation projects.

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.

The Bird Book by Steve Jenkins

They can dance, sing, and, of course, fly–what’s not to love about birds? With more than 10,000 species of dramatically different colors, shapes, and sizes, birds are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. The only animal with feathers, birds have soared through the skies for millions of years. In this beautiful picture book, learn what makes a bird a bird, what birds like to eat, and how these masters of the air have evolved. Ever wonder which bird is the smallest? Or the fastest? Which can fly the highest? Or stay airborne longest? You’ll find answers to these questions and countless others in the book.

Birdgirl : Looking To The Skies In Search Of A Better Future by Mya-Rose Craig

A moving memoir by a birder, environmentalist and activist.  It follows Mya-Rose and her family as they travel the world in search of rare birds and astonishing landscapes. But a shadow moves with them, too-her mother’s deepening mental health crisis. In the face of this struggle, the Craigs turn to nature again and again for comfort and meaning. Each bird they see brings a moment of joy and reflection, instilling in Mya-Rose a deep love of the natural world.

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

Targeted to beginners and beyond, National Geographic’s fun, inspiring guide to the art, craft, and science of bird-watching combines practical know-how and expert knowledge. 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 and us

Birds And Us : A 12,000-Year History From Cave Art To Conservation by Tim Birkhead

Ornithologist Birkhead takes us on a dazzling epic journey through our mutual history with birds, from the ibises mummified and deified by Ancient Egyptians to the Renaissance fascination with woodpecker anatomy–and from the Victorian obsession with egg collecting to today’s fight to save endangered species and restore their habitats.

Conversations With Birds by Priyanka Kumar

In this moving memoir, filmmaker and novelist Kumar explores encounters with birds as meditations on the natural world. Told in a series of vignettes comprised of notable bird sightings, the narrative offers countless magnificent reminders of the beauty and force of nature as well as warnings of human-caused destruction as bird populations plummet due to such factors as habitat loss, water shortages, and changing temperatures. 

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.

Flight Paths : How A Passionate And Quirky Group Of Pioneering Scientists Solved The Mystery Of Bird Migration by Rebecca Heisman

An in-depth look at how scientists track bird migration.  creates a skillful and accessible narrative about how we research and understand bird migration, from the first birds ever to be banded to current methodologies. As the author shows, community science, where people who track birds as a hobby contribute essential data, is more important than ever in the current era of dramatic climate change. With apps like eBird, it’s easy to track bird species and locations, providing valuable insight into migration patterns and disruption.

The Hawk’s Way : Encounters With Fierce Beauty by Sy Montgomery

When Montgomery went to spend a day at falconer Nancy Cowan’s farm, home to a dozen magnificent birds of prey, it was the start of a deep love affair. Nancy allowed her to work with Jazz, a feisty, four-year-old, female Harris’s hawk with a wingspan of more than four feet.   Over the next few years, Sy spent more time with these magnificent creatures, getting to know their extraordinary abilities and instincts. They are deeply emotional animals, quick to show anger and frustration, and can hold a grudge for years. But they are also loyal and intensely aware of their surroundings.

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. 

joy of birding

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.

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 390 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.

private lives of public birds

The Private Lives Of Public Birds : Learning To Listen To The Birds Where We Live by Jack Gedney

Gedney shares his devotion to everyday Western birds in fifteen essays. Each essay illuminates the life of a single species and its relationship to humans, and how these species can help us understand birds in general.

The Secret Perfume Of Birds : Uncovering The Science Of Avian Scent by Danielle 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. In Slow Birding, evolutionary biologist Joan E. 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 also available to borrow on OverDrive/Libby.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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