GOLDEN GUIDES
published by St. Martin's Press

These are some really cool books. We take them on vacation or camping trips to try and figure out what kind of birds we are looking at and some background on them. My 4- and 6-year olds like to use them to identify birds in our backyard, too, which really surprised me given their ages. I thought it would be a few more years before they would be interested in such things, but just leaving them around the house has sparked an interest in the books for them too. The guides are so easy to use that my young kids usually make correct identifications too! I highly recommend them.

from the publisher:
Written by world-renowned scholars, GOLDEN GUIDES (St. Martinís Press) are the leading nature guides for the home, field, and classroom. Designed for portability and easy access, these compact, lightweight books help Americans of every age explore a world of natural wonders. Here are but a few in the series:

BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA: A Guide to Field Identification
Spot the silhouette of a Northern Goshawk in flight. Identify the raucous call of the Red-winged Blackbird. Discover the secret of picking out a Chipping Sparrow from its look alike cousins. This classic field guide makes it simple, a treasured favorite among amateur bird lovers and exacting professionals alike.

EASTERN BIRDS: A Guide to Field Identification
Can you name all the birds visiting your backyard feeder, swimming on a local pond, or soaring through familiar skies? This easy-to-use guide is perfect for the casual observer or beginning bird enthusiast. Its innovative Master Plates help eliminate confusion between similar birds, and the landscapes depicting a birdís habitat speed identification. Highly acclaimed by critics, EASTERN BIRDS is a perfect companion for nature walks and for pleasurable bird watching

BIRD LIFE: A Guide to the Behavior and Biology of Birds This full-color, authoritative look at the behavior and biology of birds is packed with information on: How birds fly, migrate, nest, sing, raise their young, and more.

BIRDS This guide will help identify -- quickly and easily -- the birds you are most likely to see. Range maps show where each bird is found and handy table at the back of the book contain a wealth of additional information about migration, eggs, nests and food. This is the perfect bird book for beginners at any age.

 

Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the book
Birds
: A Guide to Familiar Birds of North America 
by Herbert S. Zim and Ira N. Gabrielson
Published by St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2001 St. Martin's Press


ATTRACTING BIRDS Most of us start watching birds close to home, at a window or in our backyard. One more way to see more birds is to make your home more attractive to them. The key is to provide the basic necessities for birds: food, water, and shelter. 

FEEDING BIRDS If you want to attract birds to your yard or window, then feeding them will help. Many places sell bird seed and bird feeders, but even scattering seed on the ground will attract some species. Black-oil sunflower seed is one of the best choices because it is eaten by so many different birds: cardinals, joys, chickadees, finches, even woodpeckers. Seed mixes that include hemp, millet, thistle (Niger) seed, or cracked corn also work. 

Bird feeders come in many shapes and sizes but it's best to start simply. Birds will come to a raised platform or window shelf, but a tube feeder or hopper feeder need to be replenished less often. During winter you can place lumps of suet in a wire container outside. It will attract chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. Try replacing the suet with a sandwich made with peanut butter, especially during warmer months. When they find it, your birds will come back to it. 

WATER FOR BIRDS Birds need drinking and bathing water just as much as they need food. They are attracted to moving, shallow water. A dripping hose or a trickle of water running into a one-inch pan with gravel on the bottom is excellent. An old bucket with a triangular piece of cloth pulled through a drip hole and hung over an old baking pan will do as well as an elaborate pool. 

COVER AND SHELTER Birds need cover for protection against wind, cold, and their enemies. The best kind of cover is shrubs or vines that provide food as well as a place to hide. Make sure that there is some place to hide near your bird feeders. Predators are sometimes attracted to the commotion at a feeder and your birds will need a safe place to fly to. 

Plants for birds can be added to any garden. These include shrubs, such as sumac and boxwood, and small trees, such as holly or dogwood. Shrubs and trees that produce berries or fruits, such as cherry, crab apple, or hawthorn, are also good, but native plants that retain their fruit in winter are best. Evergreens may be planted for shelter. Annual flowers such as sunflower, marigold, and zinnia produce seed that attract birds, as do perennials such as aster and black-eyed Susan. 

NESTING BOXES Some birds will take advantage of a nesting box or bird house made by humans. But different boxes will attract different species. For example, a box made for a wren is very different from one made for a flicker. Bird houses and plans for bird houses come in hundreds of different sizes and types. When you have become familiar with the birds in your area, you can choose the right one for those species. Build or buy a box that can be used year after year. Don't place boxes too close together; three or four nesting boxes to an acre are usually enough. Most birds set up their own territory and will keep other birds away. 

Copyright © 2001 St. Martin's Press