by Editor on February 9, 2015


An All About Wildlife Book Review

When it comes to wildlife, kids frequently are told, “Look, but don’t touch.” Spiders and bees can sting or bite, butterflies and moths are easily injured, wild mammals—even if they allow people to approach—have to be observed from a distance that is safe for the child, and of course, inquisitive little fingers must be discouraged from handling the eggs and young of birds. And while frogs are fun to catch, in most places they’re only available for part of the year, even to that fortunate minority of kids who enjoy ready and open access to a brook or a swamp. . . .

Many of us older folks don’t fully remember how frustrating this no-hands policy can be to a child—kids like to do things, not just observe them. But author Monica Russo and photographer Kevin Byron are two adults who clearly have not forgotten. Their new book, Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds, not only teaches kids about avians all kinds, but it offers them an array of options for participating in the natural world at the same time they’re learning from it.

Of course, looking for and looking at birds comprise an important part of the book, and the author suggests a variety of great places for kids to undertake group or solo field trips, including their own streets, backyards, neighborhoods, and local parks, as well as in the woods and on the farms of the countryside. But she also provides detailed, fun, and clearly illustrated instructions in the many ways her young readers can use their other developing skills and talents to add more meaning and fun to their bird-centered explorations. These include, but are not limited to: keeping a bird journal, sketching birds, building models of birds, making feeders for different types of birds, mapping bird territories, providing birds with nesting materials, collecting feathers, examining bird tracks and poop, and improving bird habitat. In other words, there’s an activity, or several, to interest nearly everybody.

Russo also includes plenty of science, which she presents in a friendly, unstuffy, non-intimidating way. She discusses the habits of different birds, along with the fascinating structures of their feathers, feet, wings, and skeletons. She goes into the various calls that birds make, as well as the reasons they make those calls.

All in all, Birdology is a well-written, well-illustrated, attractive and interesting book, and we recommend it highly for all budding young birders.

Birdology is published by Chicago Review Press, and is appropriate for children ages 7 and up. Cover price: $15.95.

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