In May, bird-watching unexpectedly made headlines after a white woman called police on Christian Cooper, a Black birder in New York City’s Central Park; in response, enthusiasts launched the first #BlackBirdersWeek, which garnered much attention on Twitter and demonstrated the pastime’s widespread appeal. More than 45 million Americans participated in birding in 2016, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology both report increased interest in their online offerings and apps since March.
What It’s Like to Be a Bird (Knopf) by ornithologist and illustrator David Allen Sibley has seen steady sales since its mid-April publication, topping 36,000 print copies at press time, and The Bird Way (Penguin Press) by science and nature writer Jennifer Ackerman has sold 1,000–2,000 copies in hardcover each week since it pubbed in May.
The coming months bring more birding guides, bird-related activity books, and titles that illuminate bird behavior.
40 Bird Boxes, Feeders & Bird Baths
Nature specialist Green approaches birding from a crafting angle, with building instructions for simple roosts and more complex structures like dovecotes. The book, an update of 2010’s How to Make 40 Bird Boxes, Feeders & Bird Baths, elaborates on the finer points: what types of feeders attract which birds (song thrushes and American robins, for instance, are drawn to ground feeders) and which birds are likely to enjoy a bath (sparrows and blackbirds, to name two).
The Backyard Birdwatcher’s Bible
Enhanced by color photos and Audubon-evoking illustrations, this is the third in a series of naturalist “bibles” from Abrams, after books
covering beekeeping and botanicals. Zoologist and illustrator Sterry, ornithologist Perrins, naturalist writer and artist Ellis, and bird guide Couzens offer tips on identifying various species, suggest ways to attract birds to a home garden, and devote space to the intricacies of nests and eggs.
How to Attract Birds to Your Garden
Profiles of some 80 species—their calls, habitats, nesting patterns, and more—form the heart of this illustrated guide from ornithologist Rouse, who details how to lure them into a yard with appropriately sized and placed nest boxes, feeding stations, and carefully chosen plants.
The Love Lives of Birds
Erickson, an ornithologist and the host of the radio show For the Birds, takes an informed, illustrated, and whimsical look at the mating rituals of 35 species. For instance, she makes note of the “elegant sky dance” of an enamored American woodcock, observes the prairie grouse’s penchant for “speed dating,” and calls the house wren a “singing Casanova.”
Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior
“Observing behavior is the essence of birding,” the author, a biologist and a past president of the Association of Field Ornithologists, writes in the introduction. He delves into migration patterns, songs, social interactions, and mating and nesting behaviors, explaining, aided by photos, not just what birds do, but why they do it.