Holiday Gifts for Birders

The holiday shopping season seems to have arrived, and it’s time to start thinking about what to get the birder in your life. Here are some of my picks for this year, based on what I’ve received myself and what I’d like to get!

SNOWtoque

I’m a women’s size small, so finding bird-related clothing that fits me well used to be a challenge, until Paul Riss at PRBY Apparel in Ontario started designing very artful, well-designed, clothing in a range of sizes, not just unisex. My favourite birding pieces are the Snowy Owl toque (which my mother got me last year  for Christmas) and the Gray Catbird t-shirt. If you’re looking for some cool birding apparel, head over to the PRBY Apparel website.

 

One of my favourite yearly gifts are birding/bird photography calendars. My mother usually gets 12312373_10100370719862427_1951080304_n me a calendar by David Sibley, but this year I’ve ordered one from Calgary photographer, Daniel Arndt. Daniel writes at the Birds Calgary blog and is an amazing photographer. If you’re interested in a calendar and in supporting a local birder, visit Daniel’s Facebook page or email him at birdscalgary AT gmail DOT com to place an order.

Owlguide

 

In October, the Peterson Reference Guide Series released a new guide by Scott Weidensaul, covering all 39 species of owls in North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The Peterson Guide to Owls is an extremely comprehensive guide with 340 colour photos of every species. It features information about ID, habitat, calls, nesting, behaviour, and very accurate range maps. This new book was one of my first holiday presents this year, thanks to Ray Brown!

Speaking of Ray, his radio show Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds got me hooked on Droll Yankees bird feeders. This past spring and summer I put out a Droll Yankees Hummingbird Window Feeder which attaches to the glass with suction cups. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds visited the feeder all through the summer and seemed to prefer that feeder over the one in front of the house. This would make a perfect gift for anyone who’d like the chance to learn more about birds and birding, and it’s great for kids.

kingfisher Artist Louise De Masi has some really lovely and accurate watercolours and acrylic bird prints and paintings in her Etsy shop. She’s an Australian artist and while many of her pieces of Australian birds, a number feature North American and European birds as well. This European Kingfisher is one of my favourites as it reminds me of the ones I saw in France earlier this year.

For birders wanting a “compact” and more portable version of The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, check out the Warbler Guide app which has all the information from the book plus more. The app is a terrific for birders who love warblers. You can purchase it at the App Store, or give a gift card for the iTunes Store or Google Play.

Albertabirdfeeding

For my Alberta readers, the new Backyard Bird Feeding: An Alberta Guide by Alberta biologist Myrna Pearman has just been published. The book has been updated and revised since the first edition was published in 1991. The new guide covers feeding birds in all seasons, how to deal with unwanted visitors at your station, bird feeding myths, and much more. The guide is geared for Alberta, but much of the information is useful for anywhere in the country and the Northern U.S. (Full disclosure: I have a photograph in the book and will be receiving a copy from Myrna as compensation.)

Cornelllab

 

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has developed a new pocket-size waterfowl ID series, centred on picking out patterns of white and dark in common waterfowl and duck-like birds in North America. The three laminated foldout ID guides — The Basics, Dabbling & Diving Ducks, Sea Ducks & Others — focus on identifying waterfowl based on the overall shape of the bird and where the patches of white are located. The foldouts are $7.95 U.S. each, but if you purchase all three, shipping is free from The Cornell Lab’s Store, Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods.

WarblerscolouringColouring books for adults are all the rage now, and Ontario birder and artist Sarah Rupert has created two colouring books — Warblers and Owls. Each book has 20 pages to colour, and features 21 species of wood warblers and Great Gray, Snowy, and Eastern Screech Owls. You can find her colouring books and other works of art at her Etsy store.

Gift memberships to Bird Studies Canada, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the American Birding Associationyour local naturalist society, or any other birding/nature group make for a great gift. With all of these groups, you’ll join a community of like-minded people, receive various publications and exclusive member information, and you’ll also be supporting a good cause.

 

Interview with writer and illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate: Part 2

(Here is part 1 of my interview with author/illustrator Annette Cate, whose new book is the children’s picture book  Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard [Candlewick, March 2013] — great for new, young birders! Some great thoughts from Annette about her own birding, and also her thoughts on children and nature, and seeing things from a kid’s point of view, as well as a couple of her original doodles! Thank you, Annette, for giving us the chance to get to know you better.)

Charlotte: Tell us a little bit about yourself, please. IMG_0162

Annette: I am originally from Waltham, Massachusetts, which is very close to Boston, just a few short bus rides away (which is why I went to the Art Institute of Boston, a very small art school, which luckily turned out to be quite a nice fit). I grew up with four sisters and two brothers, and lots of kids on the street to play with, though I was mostly pretty quiet and shy and spent much of my time reading and drawing and thinking about all my secret plans, like all the books I would write someday.

I still live in Massachusetts, now in a very small town, with my husband and my two sons, Dave and James. Our house is on a woodsy hill. There are lots birds and all sorts of other critters, too — we’ve had black bears come right up to the house!

In my spare time (which, like with all mothers I suspect, is not terribly abundant) I like to cook, work in my garden, volunteer at school, travel with my family, watch movies, read the newspaper, write letters, ride my bike, go for walks, regular everyday stuff like that.

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Charlotte: Are you more of a birdwatcher or a birder?

Annette: I looked up the difference just to make sure, and I guess I probably come out more on the side of the plain ol’ everyday backyard birdwatchers here. Maybe if I had more time I would go on more birding adventures, but I just don’t have very much of that in my life right now. And even if I did, probably my number one obstacle to being a true birder is the fact that i’m just not very good at getting up early in the morning. And even if i do get up early, it’s almost impossible to get myself out of the house. And that’s especially true when I go anywhere interesting on vacation! ( I generally don’t get up until my husband goes out and finds me coffee, I know, terrible for a bird-watching person!)

Still, the thing I’m most excited about when I think about my family’s upcoming trip to the southwest this summer? The chance to see new birds, of course! (So there may be hope for me yet.) But really, like I said in my book, I am no expert bird-watcher, not even close! I am not very good with binoculars, and I have never gone on any sort of organized bird-watching walk. I admit I am too self-conscious to do that sort of thing with other people, because I’m afraid I’m not doing it right (which is very silly of me, I know!). I am very content to watch the birds in my yard, and to sit quietly on a rock somewhere and sketch the birds I can see with as little effort as possible, when I go on a trip. So I guess that really only makes me a casual bird-watcher. But still, that brings me great happiness.

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Charlotte: How old are your sons, and do you go birding with them?

Annette: My sons are almost 10, and 12, and the last time I actually took them birding proper was when they were very young (around ages two and four) and we were on the southern coast of Texas, one of those famous birdwatching meccas, and I absolutely could not bear the thought of not looking for those fabulous Texas birds I might not ever get the chance to see again. So I would drag them out into all the marshy birdwatching places with me. I would be carrying James (the littler one) and he would be fussing and chatting and carrying on, and Dave and I would fight over the binoculars (he would use them backwards, of course), and they would get bored and want to run around, and we would annoy all the serious birdwatchers (though I must say really every single person in Texas was unbelievably nice to us at all times, no-one ever actually acted annoyed). And we did see many wonderful birds, which I guess the boys do not remember.

Nowadays when we go for walks and hikes and bike rides as a family (and we do try to do this as much as we can) I try to point out birds and ask questions about them in a casual way, since I already foist so much on them as it is (like piano lessons), and I want looking at birds to be fun and happy, not just me being a pain as usual. Our new favorite bike-riding spot is the Cape Cod Canal bike path, where there are always lots of sea birds just hanging out, and a pair of cormorants on every telephone pole. This is such a great place to really see birds. On the canal they can be quite close, you can easily see lots of fun details (like those crazy big Common Eider heads), you can see birds dive and swim. I ask the boys if they can see what makes birds different from one another, if they can tell the boys birds from the girl birds, if they can tell which are the younger ones. And the cormorants are close enough to see the little breeding plumes, these are really fun things to point out.

I try to be outside with my sons as much as possible, and I try to point out birds when I see them, and I try to keep them looking, too, in new places and even just in our own yard. I do think kids are very naturally curious, and so naturally observant, so I really do try to go with that. And they are so open and unjaded about what is a “good” bird to see. To a kid, a robin hopping and getting a worm is very cool, and I always try and remember that, you know, that really is a very cool thing to see. I try to see things from a kid’s point of view, when I remember to! Just this morning while we were outside in the yard waiting for the school bus, James and I followed a catbird around. We watched it jump from branch to branch in a big pine tree, we heard it making its “meowing” sound, and even saw its bill move while it did that, which he found really funny. Now he feels he knows the catbird a little better, he will know it when he sees it next time, he’ll know that “meow”, he knows how it moves and what tree it likes, and I think that’s really wonderful. Little discoveries, in one’s own yard, are such a great way for kids to learn about the natural world!

Charlotte: Are there any species you would really like to see?

Annette: Yes, absolutely! I think I would love to see any kind of albatross, or shearwater, but I would mostly want to see one in its natural habitat, far, far away from land, way out in the middle of the ocean, I think that would be amazing. I would also love to see a puffin. We almost went on a little cruise once when we were in Acadia National Park, where we may have been able to see puffins, but it was just too cloudy that day for the boats to go out. I’ve always been a little sad about that, that I missed my chance to see a puffin. Maybe another day it will happen.

As for birds that are right under my nose but I’ve never quite managed to see, I would absolutely love to see a whip-poor-will — any sort of bird of that kind, they seem so mysteriously creepy! I’ve don’t think I’ve seen a Great Horned Owl in real life (maybe I’ve seen one at a nature center or something), I would love to see one. Or any kind of owl, really. The only owls I see regularly are Barred Owls, we have lots around my house — any other owl would be good. And the Roadrunner! I have been to the southwest a few times, and I’ve never seen a Roadrunner, maybe this summer I will. And speaking of the Roadrunner, why haven’t I ever seen any of his other cuckoo relatives? I’d really like to see a
cuckoo.

Charlotte: Do you have any plans to write more children’s books about birds?

Annette: Hmmm, I haven’t thought at all about what might be next but we shall see!

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Original doodle by Annette LeBlanc Cate

*  *  *

I have an extra follow-up to Part 1 of my interview. I asked Annette about the birds in her yard at home in Massachusetts, and she didn’t have it ready at the time, but she does now, and here it is!

First, the usual suspects, I see these guys year-round: American Robin, Blue Jay, House Finch, House Sparrow, American Crow, Common Grackle, Dark-eyed Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Doves, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, and a European Starling.

These a little less often, but still all year: White-throated Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Wild Turkey, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, and a Carolina Wren

I see these a lot,  just not in winter: Chipping Sparrow, House Wren, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Flicker, Song Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird ,Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Phoebe

These birds I have seen only a few times, probably just because I’m not paying attention: Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-winged Warbler, MagnoliaWarbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Winter Wren, American Tree Sparrow, Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Wood PeWee, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Veery, Rufous-sided Towhee, Cedar Waxwing, Barred Owl, Broad-winged Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Birds seen flying overhead: Turkey Vulture, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Osprey, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Northern Harrier, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, and a Belted Kingfisher.

Birds I’ve seen in my yard exactly once: Indigo Bunting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Duck, Ruffed Grouse, American Kestrel, Golden-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Fox Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, and a Pine Grosbeak

Birds I think I have seen in my yard, but probably didn’t: Peregrine Falcon, Common Raven, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Common Redpoll.

Interview with writer and illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate: Part 1

LookUpCoverWhen I found out about the new kids’ book, Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick, March 2013), I thought it would be perfect for kids and especially for the Young Naturalists’ Corner at the Snow Goose Chase at the end of April. I was so lucky that Annette agreed with me, because she sent me not just three autographed copies of the book to give away to lucky winners, but also sent a copy just for me (I am planning a review as soon as I can). I can’t tell you what it would have meant to have this book when I was eight or nine years old — I’m sure I would have become a serious birder even sooner.

Even before Annette and I became email friends last month, I thought it would be fun to interview her, and let more people learn about her and her wonderful new book. When you stop to think about, there really aren’t any good books for kids on learning how to watch, and listen to, birds. There are lots of junior field guides (such as Bill Thompson’s Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America, from Peterson), and story books about birds (such as The Burgess Bird Book for Children), and nature books about birds in the wild (such as Mel Boring’s Birds, Nests and Eggs), but really nothing to help kids, especially those who live in cities and might think there is nothing to watch, learn about the hobby of birding.

Annette studied at the Art Institute of Boston and has written and illustrated two books, Look Up! and also the picture book The Magic Rabbit, new in paperback. She was also the art director for the animated television series, “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” on Comedy Central, which won Emmy and Peabody awards. Annette is also an illustrator for the Cobblestone Group of children’s magazine, including Appleseeds, Cobblestone, Cricket, and Spider. Annette lives, draws, writes, and birds in Massachusetts with her husband and two kids.

Charlotte: When did you start watching birds?

Annette: Well, I guess I didn’t officially start watching birds until I my late twenties, when I was the art director for an animated TV show, “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist”. It was the kind of job where one worked morning til night, and it was really stressful. Really stressful, killer deadlines, some ridiculous crisis or another every week. I was practically having panic attacks. I was working very long hours and the only time I was ever outside practically was when I trudged back to my car, usually in the dark. Everything in my life was seriously out of whack. …

One day I was home sick, and I must have been really sick, because I’m never out sick! And when I was lying there on the couch, I heard a big ruckus on the roof. I crawled outside — the roof was covered with birds! What was going on? I had no idea what they were, or if they came everyday to cover my roof. Was this sort of thing happening every day? Clearly I was missing a lot in life. My house was being eaten by birds everyday, and I had no idea!

So I made a pledge to myself to try and get out more and take walks at lunch — I thought it would be good for me, in the stress management department.  Across the street from work was the Mount Auburn Cemetery, and that’s where I walked. It’s an amazing place, full of interesting trees and flowers, and it’s full of birds, too. (Famous for it, actually) The more I got outside and walked, the more I noticed birds. Really, had they been here all along, and I never noticed? I started thinking that there was all this wonderful stuff in nature going on, and I wasn’t paying the least bit of attention, and that bothered me. So I bought a beginners’ Peterson’s field guide and I looked up the birds eating my house, and they were Starlings. And then I saw another bird eating ants in my backyard, and i looked it up and it was a Flicker, and it was doing exactly what the book said it was supposed to do, which was eat ants, and I just thought that was so cool.

I started paying attention to birds around me on my commute to work, too — to add to my crazy long workday, I also had a really long drive. I started watching the sky, and looking into the woodsy bits when I was stopped in traffic or at really long traffic lights and stop signs. I bought some bird call tapes and listened to them sometimes, too. It felt like I was starting to let some air, and some light into my dark, basement-dwelling life (we actually did the “Dr. Katz” show in a dark basement)

*  *  *

Here is the page the Annette inscribed for me,

IMG_2270

*  *  *

Charlotte: Did you always like to draw? When did you start drawing birds?

Annette: Oh yes! I always could. My brothers and sisters and I would always draw together. My mother would cut up brown paper bags for us to draw on, and then I think my father found a huge old blackboard at work and brought that home. We would draw on it just endlessly.

I started drawing birds for real when I started watching them, for real. When I was working on the TV show and decided I needed to start walking outdoors, I decided too that I needed to start drawing other stuff besides the cartoon people in “Dr. Katz”.

This realization came about when I had the wonderful good fortune to meet one of my comic idols, Stephen Wright — I had to draw him for the show. He asked me if I ever got up in the night to draw the characters. It hit me that no, I didn’t have to get up to draw them, I was already drawing them in my sleep, and that was when I could actually sleep, which was seldom. You can see I was a bit of a mess at this time in my life.

So I decided that I needed to feel like I was some sort of artist again. I needed to get a sketchbook and some pencils and get out and draw stuff, stuff that had nothing to do with my job whatsoever. Again, I thought it would be good for me. So on the odd weekend day I had off, I started sitting in my yard and drawing, something, anything — the bushes, the trees, the skunk cabbage in the little swamp behind the house. There was a pond nearby with a spillway, and it was the first time I ever saw Swifts, and that became my favorite place to sit and draw. There were traintacks through the woods, my husband and I walked there alot (and there was a lovely pub at the end of that walk, always a selling point). The more I walked, the more I saw that I wanted to draw. The more I drew, the more I saw birds, and that, of course, led to drawing birds, since I was voraciously reading about them at this time, too.

Charlotte: Do you have any hints for those who are learning to draw birds?

Annette: Just keep at it. Be patient, practice as much as you can, and don’t worry how good or nice your drawings are. You aren’t trying to make a pretty picture, you are merely seeking to describe. Think first about the general shape. If you can see that, and get that down, it’s really half the battle. Don’t worry about details right off (though those certainly can be fun). Practice on birds that are easy to see, that will come quite close to you. Seagulls are absolutely the best!

And don’t forget the birds’ environment, that’s important too, and if it’s too frustrating to draw a bird that’s flitting about, concentrate on something else for a while, like trees and leaves and all that. Any time spent outside really observing and drawing will help you.

Charlotte: What made you decide to write/illustrate the children’s book, Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard? Which came first for the book, the illustrations or the words?

Annette: Well, I had been watching and sketching birds as much as i could, trying to identify them using my first beginners’ field guide.Then I got another, and another, and at first I was just picking through them, trying to match up the nice pictures with the birds I was seeing. But that was frustrating sometimes, because, as you well know, birds do not always look like their pictures in the books.

And there were so many bird terms i didn’t understand, like “breeding plumage” and “semipalmated”. I would just skip over all that stuff, because I wasn’t really all that into it, right? I just wanted to know what a few birds were, I just wanted to “identify”, I didn’t have the time to read all that boring stuff in the beginning of the field guides. And then I would think I was getting somewhere, and then I would go to the beach and see all these brown seagulls and I would have no idea what kinds of seagulls they were, or I would see I bird I suspected was a warbler, but how could I tell, there were so many tiny little birds who all looked almost exactly alike, it was crazy! And I would be totally confused again.

And I thought, hmmmm, clearly, I am missing something here. I suspected the key was figuring out what what “molt patterns” and “breeding plumage” meant. So I started actually reading more, and then moreand more and then it was this whole new world, and before I knew it I was a field guide freak — I was reading them cover to cover. And I discovered I loved reading and seeing and thinking and drawing about birds, and along with my nice drawings, I started drawing funny little cartoons, because that’s what i do when i really like something. And because I have long worked for educational magazines, I am actually kind of good at explaining things to kids. I like to take confusing stuff and make it simple and fun. So it just seemed a natural thing(because I knew I should probably write another book someday, anyway) — an idea for a book that wasn’t necessarily a field guide (because I knew I would be over my head there), but a funny book to explain to kids some of that daunting stuff one might read in a more grown-up field guide. (I mean, I was daunted, myself.)

So one day I when I was going to visit my editor, Andrea Tompa, at Candlewick (I am very lucky, Candlewick is quite close to me, I can go in and visit whenever I want, they are the nicest people!), I hauled along a big stack of my sketchbooks and loose sketches and drawings, and I handed this big armload of papers to her, and asked if she thought it could maybe be a book, and after shuffling through it thoughtfully, she said yes, she thought it could, and we worked on it together from there.

So I would say, what came first, the illustrations or words? First it was organizing my cartoons (and since I have zero computer skills to speak of, there were many, many scraps of paper involved, and scissors, and glue sticks) into piles which eventually could be thought of as chapters. And then lots of thinking about what really was the focus of this book, what ages would this be for, how much information can you possibly stuff onto one page, how long can it be, mapping and reorganizing, and then much later the writing to link it all together.

I’m a terrible writer, that was absolutely the hardest part, it was unimaginably hard! Although often it was also very fun — much of this book I wrote outside in my yard, watching birds, and my young sons at the same time. I really am quite indebted to Andrea, and the designer who worked on this book, Pam Consolazio. This book was a lot of work for them, too!

* * * *

Thank you, Annette! What wonderful stories!

Just as a reminder, this is just Part 1 of my interview with author/illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate. Stay tuned for Part 2 shortly!

Look Up!

Look what just flew in, in time for the Snow Goose Chase giveaways: autographed copies of Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard (Candlewick, March 2013), straight from author/illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate in Massachusetts!

Thank you so very, very much, Annette for sending such a wonderful parcel!

(Annette also included some surprises, including a couple of the field guides she used in writing Look Up!)

We leave for the Snow Goose Chase tomorrow just after 7…

IMG_1839

Giveaways for the Snow Goose Chase

The Young Naturalists’ Corner at the Snow Goose Chase this Saturday will have numerous books and other items to give away as door prizes!

These are some of the books my mom and I bought, but there will be others that other organizers are bringing,

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:: Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, written by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick, March 2013) is the one book I’m still waiting for to come in the mail; Annette kindly offered to send some copies — thank you, Annette!

:: The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer and illustrated by Rachel Riordan (FalconGuides, April 2013); I reviewed the book earlier this week here.

:: One Small Square: Backyard: One Small Square by Donald M. Silver and illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne (Learning Triangle Press, 1993); this series is one we read a lot when my brothers and I were younger.

:: The Listening Walk by Paul Showers and illustrated by Aliki (HarperCollins, 1961); another book we had when we were younger, and my mother had it too when she was little.

:: A Golden Guide to Mammals by Donald F. Hoffmeister and Herbert S. Zim, and illustrated by James Gordon Irving (St. Martin’s Press). This is a wonderful little book, just the right size to fit in your pocket to take on a nature walk. Dr. Hoffmeister (1916-2011) was a professor of zoology, and director of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Illinois. Dr. Zim (1909-1994) was a naturalist, author, educator, and the founder and editor-in-chief of the Golden Guides series of nature books.

And Ken Keffer sent me these fabulous bookmarks that he and Stacey Tornio had made as part of the release of their new book The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book. And there’s one just for me to keep, too! Thank you, Ken!

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Christmas Presents 2012

I received some wonderful presents this year, most of which were birding-related. My parents, especially my mother, bought most of the bird items!  She found most of them at EtsyAmazon.ca (since we’re in Canada), Chapters.ca, and The Book Depository (which my mother likes for the free shipping). Here’s a list:

:: My two favorite presents this year are an Owl tote bag (to me the owl looks like a Screech-Owl), and the Law’s Guide to Drawing Birds which I wrote about here. I’m very excited to start using the book it and will write a review soon. The bag is currently unavailable, but maybe it will be back in stock before too long,

Owltotebag

:: The latest issue, January 2013 of Birds and Blooms, from my father

:: A pair of handmade “Out on a Limb Bird Earrings” which I’ve been wearing ever since I opened my presents. They are silver-plate and made by Etsy seller billetsdoux in Thunder Bay, Ontario,

Birdearrings

:: A decal for my laptop of two birds on a branch, from Lewa’s Designs at Etsy,

ComputerDecal

:: The Birder’s Year 2013 calendar by David Sibley, and the 2013 Charley Harper calendar (which also has some wonderful non-bird illustrations),

:: Charley Harper note cards and envelopes featuring the Eastern Meadowlark,

:: A felt Snowy Owl brooch from lupin’s Etsy shop, for my winter jacket which is black,

SnowyOwlBrooch

:: A Red-headed Woodpecker ornament from Home Depot, to commemorate my seeing the very rare woodpecker in our area this Summer,

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I received the following books:

:: The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It by William Rapai (review at 10000 Birds)

:: What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young; the book’s website is here

:: Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction by Elizabeth Gehrman Rare Birds (review here)

:: A Brand New Bird: How Two Amateur Scientists Created the First Genetically Engineered Animal by Tim Birkhead, about the red canary. It’s not “a brand new” or even recent book but my mother thought it would be interesting and also good for my biology studies.

5 Great Holiday Gifts for Birders

Christmas is just around the corner and I thought it would be helpful again to list some present ideas! Some of these are things I would like to receive myself! Here is a link to a similar post I wrote last year with more ideas.

1. The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds is one of the books I would love to add to my bird book collection. As I’m trying to learn more about drawing birds, this book look very good and helpful.

2. I really like birding calendars, and my favorites are the ones by David Sibley. Here is The Birder’s Year 2013 calendar by David SibleyDavid Sibley also has posters of North American Hummingbirds, Backyard Eastern US BirdsBackyard Western US Birds, which are very nice too! More items by David Sibley can be seen here at his website.

3. Earlier this year I won an autographed copy of the Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds by Richard Crossley. It’s a wonderful book with terrific photos. I find it very helpful when I’m trying to figure out the age of raptors.

4. You can give a gift memberships to the American Birding AssociationBird Studies Canada, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, or any other birding/nature groups. With all of these groups you will receive various publications and exclusive member info, and you know that you are supporting a good cause.

5. The new coffee-table book from National Geographic and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds. The cover looks beautiful, and I would really like to read it!