Wild About Northeastern Birds - A Youth's Guide, features birds of the Northeast and how, when, and where to find and observe them. For this book, "Northeast" means the 11 states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, a clarification that should have been made on the front or back cover.
I like the layout of the book, with the 70 birds organized by habitat versus alphabetical or taxonomic order. This is a lesson in itself, helping readers young and old connect the dots between the birds and the habitats in which they are most likely to be found. That doesn't mean that taxonomic order (or binomial nomenclature for that matter) was left out; indexes in the back of the book list the birds taxonomically and alphabetically.
Since the type of habitat one is in is not always obvious or known, each of the four habitats are described, discussing natural history as well as the flora and fauna to look for in determining a habitat category.
Within the habitat group, each bird species has a two-page spread, starting with a large photograph marked with key visual characteristics to look for. Additional smaller photographs are provided when there are differences in sexes, morphs, or color variations. A bubble gives a cursory description of one of the bird's calls, song, or other sound and what it is interpreted to mean.
"Habitat Cafe" tells the reader what the bird eats by season, while "Life Cycle" covers the nesting process, from nest to fledgling and beyond. An additional panel covers when best to see the bird (day and season), when they migrate and to where, when they nest, how they get around and where to look within the habitat. "Do the Math" activities help illustrate some of the amazing facts about birds. And interesting paragraphs share fascinating facts and stories about each bird.
I loved the details of the food preferences by season (both natural food and feeder food) and that the migration section includes information on where the bird migrates to (if at all). Tools and hints are provided to help start a bird journal, which could lead to a lifetime activity. There is a good emphasis on conservation, responsibility, and safety throughout the reading. All of this is written in an easy to read and easy to understand fashion.
Buyers of this book will be interested in knowing the intended age range, which online is stated as "5 and up". (This would be useful information to place in an easy-to-find location like the front or back cover). Don't let this age recommendation deter you from getting this book for readers up to middle school age.
Wild about Northeastern Birds is more than a field guide to identify birds; it provides easy-to-read details of a species' life history, which hopefully will lead the young reader to learn more about all aspects of the life of the birds around them. And though it is marketed as a "Youth's Guide", there's something for almost everyone to learn in this book. If you're looking for new reading for the 5-13 year old bird and nature lover in your life, I can highly recommend Wild about Northeastern Birds. Hint: Read it yourself before you wrap it!
WILD ABOUT NORTHEASTERN BIRDS
by Adele Porter
Published by Adventure Publications 2010
Available at Wild Birds Unlimited - Saratoga Springs NY. If you plan to purchase this book at WBU-Saratoga, click here for a money saving coupon (expires March 31, 2011).
DRAWING: Comment on this post to have your name entered in a drawing to win my review copy of Wild About Northeastern Birds. Entries close February 15, 2011. Winner will be notified by email.
RESULTS: Congrats to Steve H. who won the drawing for the free book.
In accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR Part 255, it is disclosed that the copy of the book read in order to produce this review was provided gratis to the reviewer by the publisher.