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Fly Away With These New Books About Birds

The Bird Way by Jennifer AckermanWhat It's Like to Be a Bird by David Sibley

We’re guessing that these days, sometimes you just wish you could fly away. We can’t help you with that, but we can help you with some new books for bird lovers.

First up is What It’s Like to be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing – What Birds Are Doing and Why, by renowned birder David Allen Sibley. Sibley’s birdwatching guides are among the most popular around, with both descriptions and illustrations by him. We carry his regional guide to birds,  Field Guide to Birds, Western Edition, at the store. This new book, however is not a field guide. Here, he brings his love of and deep knowledge of bird biology and behavior to both birders and laymen, along with dozens of his beautiful illustrations.

Jennifer Ackerman’s The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think covers similar ground, but focuses instead on behavior, on the unique qualities of brain wiring in birds as opposed to mammals like ourselves:

"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."

Backpack Explorer Bird WatchHow Birds Work by Marianne Taylor

After reading this book, you’ll never use the phrase ‘bird brain’ as a disparagement again. Also of interest is Ms. Ackerman’s previous book The Genius of Birds, available in paperback.

Inhabiting a place somewhere in between these two books is How Birds Work: An Illustrated Guide to the Wonders of Form and Function – From Bones to Beak, by Marianne Taylor. It covers similar territory as the Sibley book, but brings its own unique voice to the subject, and the many illustrations provide x-ray vision to its look at bird anatomy. Ms. Taylor has also published a similar book on insects: How Insects Work: An Illustrated Guide to the Wonders of Form and Function – From Antennae to Wings.

We have birding books for kids as well. The popular Backpack Explorer series has just published Backpack Explorer Bird Watch. These books are filled with outdoor nature activities geared towards the 8-12 year old set. We Love Birds: 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander and Explore Birds with Kids, by Jennifer Ward, aimed at the same age group. We have a limited quantity of autographed copies of I Love Birds on hand.