Birder on Berry Lane: Three Acres, Twelve Months, Thousands of Birds
Robert Tougias, author
Robert Tougias is the author of Birding Western Massachusetts and Quest for the Eastern Cougar. His column "Bird's Eye View" appears regularly in newspapers across the Northeast. He lives in rural Connecticut.
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Mark Szantyr, illustrator
Mark Szantyr has illustrated several birding books and ornithological journals, including covers for the Connecticut Warbler and the Journal of the Connecticut Ornithological Association. He lives in Mansfield, Connecticut.
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Nature writer Tougias (Birding Western Massachusetts) celebrates the avian visitors to his suburban Connecticut backyard in this affecting chronicle. He dispenses scientific information about birds’ life cycles, habitats sometimes imperiled by development, and identifying features, such as their distinctive calls—the sparrow’s trills, catbird’s meow, and owl’s hoots. However, for him, “birding isn’t just a matter of ticking off species one by one” but the source of “a great feeling of peace,” with the appearance of different species marking the passing of the year. He associates January with owls, and the red-shouldered hawk with March, a month he savors for the many signs of migration. April is “a waiting game” for the turn toward warm weather that will bring songbirds, but May goes quickly, “as if, in the single beat of my heart, the entire spring has slipped away,” while he observes new hatchlings quickly maturing to be ready to fly south with their parents at summer’s end. For November, he spotlights turkeys and grosbeaks as heralds of winter, while December allows Tougias to discuss bird survival strategies—huddling, fluffing, shivering—and also human cohabitation, as with the Carolina wren he discovered in his garage. Bird-loving readers will adore Tougias’s celebratory account of how wild animals can become an intrinsic part of one’s daily life.
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Page count: 224
6 x 9