Monday, March 26, 2012

Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)

Backyard Birds
Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)
by Karen Stray Nolting, Jonathan Latimer, Roger Tory Peterson
3.8 out of 5 stars(17)

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Grade 4-7-Field guides that offer tips on identification. Backyard Birds features types " are likely to see where you live"; Birds of Prey, the "...swift and often silent hunters..."; Bizarre Birds, North American birds with a unique characteristic; and Shorebirds that can be found "...near the bodies of fresh water and salt water in North America." Each guidebook includes a rather subjective selection of about 20 creatures. The organization of material is different in each title: the backyard birds are grouped by color, the raptors by size, and the bizarre birds by such characteristics as odd bills. The shorebirds are arranged by where they are likely to be seen-the air, water, ground, or grass. A two-page entry for each creature instructs readers on how to recognize it and provides a solid introduction to individual characteristics. Although the information is clear, there are some omissions. For example, three of the texts stress the importance of knowing the size of the bird as a clue to its identification but neither measurements nor range maps are included. However, bright, full-color photographs and drawings clearly indicate distinguishing features. Useful, accessible additions.
Frances E. Millhouser, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the new series "Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists," Backyard Birds is a wonderful handbook for the novice birder. Whether your young bird-watcher is a curious casual observer or a more systematic collector of sightings, he or she will find this guide informative and easy to follow. Featuring illustrations by the famous naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, the book gives a simple, nonthreatening introduction to the Peterson system of bird identification (essentially a set of drawings and questions that help birders look for particular identifying features). There is enough information here to help readers identify 20 backyard birds common to most parts of the U.S. and Canada. A short course on the Peterson method encourages readers to observe the size, shape, color and markings of each bird sighted, as well as its habitat, call and behavior. Armed with this information, the reader can then solve the puzzle of what is flying around in the backyard. Each chapter--as highlighted in the table of contents--shows birds of one predominant color, enabling the reader to turn to the right section and begin the identification process right away, regardless of previous bird knowledge. The chapters themselves each describe and picture one to four birds, including notes on each one's habitat, voice and food. Readers are advised to observe other identification clues such as the shape of the beak (curved or straight?), the length of the legs (long or short?), and the shape of the tail (rounded, pointed, flat or forked?). These can be difficult to note when the bird is far away or in motion, but it gets easier with practice. This book will have you paying more attention to and getting more pleasure from the birds you see every day, whether you are just out with the family or going on a walk specifically to look for birds. And there are bonus features that make the book even more useful: in the hardback version, the inside back cover of the dust jacket is printed with rulers (metric and English) that make it easier to judge a bird's size. And the index includes room for entries describing where and when the young birder has seen each species--perhaps the start of his or her life list of birds seen.

Joan Silberlicht Epstein
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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