Birds Of The Pacific Northwest, by Todd Telander
One of the enjoyable aspects of being in a house on the coast with a lot of windows is that it encourages one to bird-watch and read books about bird-watching, I suppose . As someone who has not read many books as of yet on bird-watching, it is interesting to see how different writers attempt to deal with the issue of presenting information that would aid people in identifying and finding birds. This particular book is certainly written by someone who is more aware of various bird families than I am, and uses terms that are pretty unfamiliar to me, but seeing as there is a vocabulary to learn, I must admit I am not too bothered by the need to brush up on my bird-related vocabulary to understand what the author is saying. As far as problems go, this is not a bad problem at all to deal with. At any rate, this is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend in terms of understanding and appreciating the birds of the Pacific Northwest, and so this book definitely lives up to its title.
At about 200 pages, this is a fairly average-sized book by the publishing standards I am familiar with in general. The contents of the book are fairly demanding in terms of their structure, much more than one would expect. The book begins with an introduction, some notes, and a list of terms on bird topography, all of which are pretty helpful. It should be noted that a glossary of difficult terms related to bird habitat would have been useful here as well. The material on the birds themselves are divided into two large sections on Nonpasserines and Passerines. The nonpassarine families included are: geese, ducks, and mergansers, pheasants, grouse, and turkey, quail, loons, grebes, albatrosses, fulmars and shearwaters, storm-petrels, pelicans, ormorants, herons and egrets, ibises, new world vultures, hawks and eagles, falcons, rails and coots, cranes, plovers, oystercatchers, avocets and stilts, sandpipers and phalaropes, gulls and terms, jaegers, alcids, pigeons and doves, barn owls, typical owls, nightjars and nighthawks, swifts, hummingbirds, kingfighers, and woodpeckers. The passerines discussed include tyrant flycatchers, shrikes, vireos, jays and crows, larks, swallows, wrentits, cickadees and titmice, bushtits, creepers, nuthatches, dippers, wrens, kinglets, gnatcatchers, thrushes, mockingbirds, catbirds, and thrashers, starlings, pipits, waxwings, wood-warblers, sparrows and buntings, tanagers and grosbeaks, blackbirds and orioles, finches, and old world sparrows. The birds are drawn with considerable skill and each bird included is discussed by name, family, size, season in the Pacific Northwest, and habitat, and the author discusses coloring and sounds and the general behavior of the birds, making this an appealing volume.
There is much to enjoy about a book like this. Assuming that the language of the book is not too difficult for the reader to understand and that the reader appreciates the fine artwork of the author concerning the various bird species discussed here, the reading of the book proceeds in a friendly fashion. The author includes a lot of humorous notes about birds, noting some as shy and others as gregarious, some as wily and even one as pugnacious. The author notes the considerable ambiguity that exists in the classification of birds, making this useful as the author appears to have no particular ideological axes to grind, except that (understandably) the author makes note that conservation efforts have improved life for the noble peregrine falcon. Overall, this is a book written by someone who loves and appreciates birds of different kinds and is interested in encouraging others to recognize and appreciate the birds as well. This is an effort well worth recommending and appreciating.
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