The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds

Julie Zickefoose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-547-00309-2
Mr. Troyer, a bluebird saved from the fatal clutches of a sharp-shinned hawk, goes on to live a life of bigamy. Thus begins bird lover Zickefoose’s captivating memoir. In her collection of avian stories—enlivened by her evocative line drawings—Zickefoose, a naturalist, bird painter, and songbird rehabilitator, shares her passion and curiosity for “the zone where birds interact with people... the moment when my gaze meets a bird’s—that exchange of awareness of the ‘who’ in each of us, the spark of understanding leaping from the bright bead of its eye to mine.” She takes on the care of four astonishingly tiny hummingbirds, “hatched from eggs no bigger than black-eyed peas,” who dominate her life with feedings every 20 minutes. She rails against the extinction of ivory-billed woodpeckers and is transported by “tanagers being tanagers, in all their unfathomable beauty and grace.” Birders will appreciate her meticulous observations and devotion to the avian world, but anyone who’s ever considered hanging a birdfeeder is likely to be mesmerized by the sensuous, precise prose as well as Zickefoose’s vivid portraits of scrawny, fluffy phoebe chicks, a self-possessed hummingbird perched on a clothesline, dwarfed by the surrounding clothespins, and orioles migrating by moonlight. Readers will be astounded by the drama and intelligence fluttering in their backyards. Agent: The Wiley Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 03/20/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-547-72742-4
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