Reasons To Read Non-Fiction: Birdscaping Your World

A selection of books on the joy of birding and how to attract birds (and bees and butterflies) to your outdoor space.

closeup of hummingbird at feeder




This week’s Advice for Readers Blog Post collects a variety of books on the subject of birds and birdscaping, my personal favorite self-care activity of 2020. Birdscaping is a term that refers to the practice of turning your yard (or patio, or balcony, or window ledge) into a safe and habitable space for our feathered friends and, in turn, a sanctuary for yourself. What I have also learned is that the term does not refer to the practice of catching birds and artfully shaving them, which, believe me, the birds DO NOT LIKE! (I kid. I kid. No birds were harmed in the making of this blog post.) But seriously, filling your outdoor space with bird feeders, birdbaths, bird houses, trees, and other plants to attract birds (and bees and butterflies) not only makes nature happy, but can provide you with endless hours of entertainment and be a calming and relaxing method of self-care. Over the past few years, during stressful times, I have found a bird-friendly backyard to be a way to connect with nature in the middle of our busy neighborhood, as well as a source of great comfort and healing. It is our hope that this list will encourage you to experience the joy of getting to know your local chickadees; watching sparrows, finches, scrub jays, hummingbirds, and wrens build their homes and raise their young; and discovering the sheer pleasure of bird bath time. Even if you don’t have a yard to birdscape, anyone can learn about our winged neighbors and come to appreciate the beauty and wonder (and music!) that birds bring to our neighborhoods, parks, and backyards. Happy birding! 


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The Bird Way : A New Look At How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, And Think  by Jennifer Ackerman

(Also available as an E-BOOK and an eAUDIO BOOK)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds , a radical investigation into the bird way of being, and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds — how they live and how they think. "There is the mammal way and there is the bird way." But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries –– What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play. […] Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska's Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.-- Provided by the publisher


What It's Like To Be A Bird : What Birds Are Doing, And Why -- From Flying To Nesting, Eating To Singing  written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley

(Also available as an E-BOOK)

The bird book for birders and nonbirders alike that will excite and inspire by providing a new and deeper understanding of what common, mostly backyard, birds are doing—and why "Can birds smell?" "Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?" "Do robins 'hear' worms?" In What It's Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 430 new illustrations by the author. While its focus is on familiar backyard birds—blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees—it also examines certain species that can be fairly easily observed, such as the seashore-dwelling Atlantic puffin. David Sibley's exacting artwork and wide-ranging expertise bring observed behaviors vividly to life. (For most species, the primary illustration is reproduced life-sized.) And while the text is aimed at adults—including fascinating new scientific research on the myriad ways birds have adapted to environmental changes—it is nontechnical, making it the perfect occasion for parents and grandparents to share their love of birds with young children, who will delight in the big, full-color illustrations of birds in action. Unlike any other book he has written, What It's Like to Be a Bird is poised to bring a whole new audience to David Sibley's world of birds.-- Provided by the publisher



1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know : Tips And Trivia For The Backyard And Beyond  by Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler

Bird watching is one of the most popular hobbies in America, and 1,001 Secrets Every Bird Watcher Should Know is the first photographic guide and fact book written in a humorous conversational tone that appeals to every age and skill level. Replete with sound information, 1,001 Secrets will expose many birding myths: a bald eagle cannot carry off a four-month old baby, and crows do not go sledding for fun. This accessible guide includes fun facts, such as where certain birds got their names, how birds eat, how they find a life partner, and how they build a home for the chicks. Other useful information includes identification tips, migration patterns, and where the best birding vacation spots are. Packed with full-color photos, 1,001 Secrets Every Bird Watcher Should Know is a fun, informative read for every bird watcher.-- Provided by the publisher


Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me? : More Answers To Common And Not-So-Common Questions About Birds And Birding  by Mike O'Connor ; edited by Olivia H. Miller ; illustrations by Michael Chesworth

Mike O’Connor knows bird watchers as well as he knows birds. He knows that if you’re even slightly interested in identifying birds or attracting them to your backyard with a feeder, then you’ve also had your share of strange and silly questions about birds and their sometimes inexplicable behavior. In Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me?, O’Connor applies his deep knowledge of all things avian to answer the questions that keep birders up at night. Questions like
 · Should you clean your birdhouses?
 · Do swallows have a feather fetish?
 · How much does it cost to run a heated birdbath?
 · Is drinking coffee bad for birds?
Other questions O’Connor covers range from the practical (Should I rotate the seed in my feeder?) to the quirky (Why are vultures eating my vinyl screen door?) to the just plain adorable (Are those birds kissing or feeding each other?). And he also explains why bluebirds just don’t seem to like some people.-- Provided by the publisher



The Bird Watching Answer Book : Everything You Need To Know To Enjoy Birds In Your Backyard And Beyond  by Laura Erickson

(Also available as an E-BOOK)

Learn the how’s and why’s of bird behavior, from flirtatious mating practices and gorgeous birdsong to flying south for the winter. In this lively reference book, Laura Erickson addresses hundreds of real-life questions sent in to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the world’s foremost authority on birds. With expert advice on bird watching techniques and equipment, feeding and housing birds, protecting habitats, and much more, Erickson guides you through the intricacies of the avian world with a contagious passion for our feathered friends.-- Provided by the publisher



Backyard Birding : A Guide To Attracting And Identifying Birds  by Randi Minetor ; photographs by Nic Minetor [E-BOOK]

"How to bring birds to your home and keep them there-including 250 full-color photos They're out there every day, flashing through your yard, perching in a tree, collecting on utility wires, or congregating around puddles. They already share your backyard and neighborhood with you, but you-even if you are already one of America's more than 68 million birders-haven't formally invited them over for dinner. This book shows you how. Backyard Birding helps you maximize your home birding experiences and attract a wider variety of birds. With 250 full-color photos and concise, informative text, it provides indispensable details on what foods, plants, trees, water sources, and nesting materials will attract particular species. It helps you make the right choices the first time-and avoid costly mistakes. As an identification guide, it goes further than any previous resource in clarifying such matters as male/female plumage variations and breeding vs. nonbreeding plumage. Randi and Nic Minetor traveled from Florida to Alaska to photograph the hundreds of species in these pages. The result is a compendium from America's backyards to your fingertips, with information useful in whatever climate or habitat your own backyard may provide.-- Provided by the publisher




Birdscaping Your Garden : A Practical Guide To Backyard Birds And The Plants That Attract Them  by George Adams

Describes the habitat, feeding habits, and behavior of common birds, lists plants that attract birds, and offers advice on planning a bird-friendly landscape.-- Provided by the publisher




The California Wildlife Habitat Garden [electronic resource] : How To Attract Bees, Butterflies, Birds, And Other Animals  by Nancy Bauer

This attractive, practical guide explains how to transform backyard gardens into living ecosystems that are not only enjoyable retreats for humans, but also thriving sanctuaries for wildlife. Beautifully illustrated with full-color photographs, this book provides easy-to-follow recommendations for providing food, cover, and water for birds, bees, butterflies, and other small animals. Emphasizing individual creativity over conventional design, Bauer asks us to consider the intricate relationships between plants and wildlife and our changing role as steward, rather than manipulator, of these relationships. In an engaging narrative that endorses simple and inexpensive methods of wildlife habitat gardening, Nancy Bauer discusses practices such as recycling plant waste on site, using permeable pathways, growing regionally appropriate plants, and avoiding chemical fertilizers and insecticides. She suggests ways of attracting pollinators through planting choices and offers ideas for building water sources and shelters for wildlife. A plant resource guide, tips for propagating plants, seasonal plants for hummingbirds, and host plants for butterflies round out The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, making it an indispensable primer for those about to embark on creating their own biologically diverse, environmentally friendly garden.-- Provided by the publisher




Birds In Your Backyard : A Bird Lover's Guide To Creating A Garden Sanctuary  by Robert J. Dolezal

Turn your backyard into a blissful bird sanctuary-create an appealing habitat to attract birds and watch them thrive. This indispensable guide for bird enthusiasts is a comprehensive and richly illustrated volume-with over 600 full-color photos. Together with a little careful planning and planting you can turn your yard into a bird and butterfly oasis. It's several books in one:
* An A-to-Z landscaping guide to identify over 75 flowers and plants
* A field guide includes over 170 varieties of birds and butterflies with key
information on: how to identify them by their markings, how they behave, and which feeder foods they like the best
* A bird-watching guide to understand the basics of bird-watching and what equipment might be needed to observe or photograph birds
Plus, a how-to guide filled with step-by-step instructions for easy-to-build projects. Learn how-to:
* Plant your garden with bird-friendly trees, plants, hedges, ground cover, seed- producing flowers, and fruit-bearing shrubs and vines
* Build and mount your own birdhouses, boxes, perches, and shelters
* Identify the best plants for creating nesting sites; grow bird seed; and add a birdbath or pond
Let Birds in Your Backyard reveal its secrets for creating an irresistible garden and welcoming landscape alive with birds and butterflies.-- Provided by the publisher





Attracting Birds, Butterflies & Other Winged Wonders To Your Backyard  by Kris Wetherbee; photography, Rick Wetherbee

Any garden can become a more beautiful and welcoming haven for winged wildlife with the extensive information and 30 projects found within these attractive pages. Birds, butterflies, and dragonflies will come flocking to the yard when gardeners follow the advice on adding plants, water features, and other creature comforts to the landscape. Supplemental charts detail the plants' key characteristic, and there are sample plans for designing lovely hummingbird, songbird, and butterfly gardens.-- Provided by the publisher




The Pollinator Victory Garden : Win The War On Pollinator Decline With Ecological Gardening : How To Attract And Support Bees, Beetles, Butterflies, Bats, And Other Pollinators  by Kim Eierman

"The passion and urgency that inspired WWI and WWII Victory Gardens is needed today to meet another threat to our food supply and our environment-the steep decline of pollinators. The Pollinator Victory Garden offers practical solutions for winning the war against the demise of these beneficial animals. Pollinators are critical to our food supply and responsible for the pollination of the vast majority of all flowering plants on our planet. Pollinators include not just bees, but many different types of animals, including insects and mammals. Beetles, bats, birds, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, and even some mosquito species, can be pollinators. But, many pollinators are in trouble, and the reality is that most of our landscapes have little to offer them. Our residential landscapes, and many commercial landscapes, are filled with vast green pollinator deserts, better known as lawns. These monotonous green expanses are ecological wastelands for bees and other pollinators. By planting a bit differently and by tweaking your landscape aesthetic, you can transition your landscape into a pollinator haven. By using proper cultural practices in your garden, choosing the right plant for the right location, and by attracting "nature's pest control" (beneficial insects that act as natural enemies), you can keep nature in balance and give pollinators a fighting chance. The time is right for a new gardening movement. Every yard, community garden, rooftop, porch, patio, and corporate landscape can help to win the war against pollinator decline with The Pollinator Victory Garden"-- Provided by publisher



Attracting Birds And Butterflies : How To Plant A Backyard Habitat To Attract Winged Wildlife  by Barbara Ellis

In the eye of a bird or butterfly, the typical suburban landscape resembles an unfriendly desert. Closely mowed lawns, tightly clipped shrubs, raked-up borders, and deadheaded flowers mean no place to nest, no food to eat, and nowhere to hide. To the humans who live there, this means no bird songs, no colorful butterflies, no dazzling hummingbirds, no night-sparkling fireflies. Creating a garden that welcomes these creatures may seem like a confusing and complicated task, but the principles involved are relatively simple. Essentially, wildlife needs food, water, and shelter, just like we do, and this lavishly illustrated guide shows which plants attract which creatures, and how to plant and care for them.-- Provided by the publisher




Bird Homes And Habitats  by Bill Thompson III

"Two of the best-known names in birding--Peterson and Bird Watcher's Digest--team up to provide reliable, expert advice on how to attract the birds you want into your yard. Which birds use nest boxes? What's required to maintain a birdhouse? What kind of habitat will attract which birds? What does it take to be a bluebird trail operator? What does it mean if baby birds or eggs disappear from their nest? Bill Thompson III answers all of these questions and more, helping readers to create yards and gardens where birds will make their homes and raise their young. It's easy enough to hang a birdfeeder. But there are plenty of other things that can attract birds to a landscape--and, in fact, birds need four essentials: food, water, shelter, and a place to nest. The more of these elements a yard has, the more attractive it is to birds. A lavishly illustrated chapter provides ideas and inspiration for creating bird havens by profiling "Birdy Backyard All-Stars," fifteen homeowners from around the country who have actively worked to create bird-friendly habitats"-- Provided by publisher



40 Bird Boxes, Feeders & Birdbaths : Practical Projects To Turn Your Garden Into A Haven For Birds  by Jen Green

Nesting boxes, feeding tables and birdbaths make charming additions to any terrace or garden and can be as decorative as they are practical. Even the smallest outdoor space can be enlivened by a small nesting box or feeder, while larger spaces can be home to all manner of bird dwellings. This practical book includes 15 original designs to make at home, from a neo-classical bird table and a country-style distressed house to a thatched ‘cottage' or fairytale tower. Special advice on how to attract birds to your garden includes tips on providing the right nesting box for different species; choosing the best feeders to benefit the birds; and tasty bird treats that will guarantee a flock of birds in deepest winter. With its easy-to-follow instructions and 500 photographs, this book is a must for everyone who wants to help their local feathered community.-- Provided by the publisher





The Backyard Birdhouse Book : Building Nestboxes And Creating Natural Habitats  by René and Christyna M. Laubach

It has been shown that backyard bird conservation has made a difference in certain bird populations.  With this carefully researched, handsomely illustrated, and easy-to-use guide, both suburban and rural residents alike now have a compendium of information that will allow you to provide appropriate housing for cavity nesting birds in your area.  Join that conservation effort and attract fascinating birds like bluebirds, wood ducks, purple martins, and American kestrels to your backyard.-- Provided by the publisher



Birder On Berry Lane : Three Acres, Twelve Months, Thousands Of Birds  by Robert Tougias; with illustrations by Mark Szantyr

Robert Tougias's house on Berry Lane may look like a typical Connecticut suburban home, but as his fascinating year-long account reveals, its three-acre backyard is teeming with nature's mysteries. Acutely sensitive to the activities of birds, Tougias notes which species are present, which are breeding, and where their nests are. He identifies each species by its song, and brings us on a journey of appreciation as we learn the wonders of bird migration, the sensitive interaction of birds with their habitat, and the hidden meaning of their call notes and songs.
Beautifully illustrated with twenty-five line drawings, Birder on Berry Lane is a book of sublime simplicity that teaches an appreciation for what we commonly overlook.-- Provided by the publisher




In Search Of Meadowlarks : Birds, Farms, And Food In Harmony With The Land  by John M. Marzluff

With predictions of a human population of more than nine billion by the middle of this century and eleven billion by 2100, we stand at a crossroads in our agricultural evolution. In this clear and engaging yet scientifically rigorous book, wildlife biologist John M. Marzluff takes a personal approach to sustainable agriculture. He travels to farms and ranches across North and Central America, including a Nebraska corn and soybean farm, California vineyards, cattle ranches in Montana, and small sustainable farms in Costa Rica, to understand the unique challenges and solutions to sustainable food production. Agriculture and wildlife can coexist, Marzluff argues, if farmers are justly rewarded for conservation; if future technological advancements increase food production and reduce food waste; and if consumers cut back on meat consumption. Beginning with a look backward at our evolutionary history and concluding with practical solutions for change that will benefit farmers and ranchers, he provides an accessible and insightful study for the ecologically minded citizen, farmer, rancher, or conservationist.-- Provided by the publisher


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