Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: What the Robin Knows and How to be a Better Birder

(C) Young & and Houghton Co., Lovitch & Princeton UP

In the past few weeks, I finished two great works on birding, birds, and connecting with nature.  One involves a push to listen more closely to nature and the other provides the tools for a better scientific understanding of forces that move birds around and affect their interactions with nature. They are an excellent pair of books to use to help reflect and improve how we act and understand birds in the field.

What the Robin Knows advocates for a basic principle of listening and trying to understand the different messages that nature is telling us.  Young proposes many different skills and exercises for improving how we listen to nature and respond to the birds around us.  Finding a listening spot and learning how to listen for the alarms, signals, and communications from birds.

Young provides some great rewards for what knowing and listening to "Bird Language" can bring.  Great insights into nature and amazing lessons that birds can teach us.  Knowing and figuring out how to listening to birds beyond iding a species can yield great rewards.  Earlier this year, knowing bird language helped me and a birding friend find a Great Horned Owl.  Hearing lower-than-usual Junco chips told me something was up and doing a little looking through the canopy revealed an owl!

I can't wait to put more into Young's lesson into practice and improve my observations and listening skills!

Jon Young's Bird Language Website - Link Here

How to Be a Better Birder provides the best scientific background to couple with Young's book.  Lovitch does a great good of outline skills from plant identification, weather observation, and knowing the scientific migration of birds.  From basic skills, good practices, and improving your reading list, Better Birder honestly provides the tools to be a better birder.  It is a delightful example of truth in advertising!

Better Birder for me really outlined some key skills that I felt that I had been missing.  Namely the weather.  On my own and through a few readings, I had started to pick up on the rules of judging and using weather to find and track birds!  I can't wait to start looking at the upcoming winds and storms.

Both books are great reads to helping birders understand being in the field and how to better find and listen to birds.  I can't wait to get out and look at birds with deeper appreciation of all the forces and aspects that make birding so exciting.  

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