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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Steve Kress's Guide to Attracting Birds

Even if you didn't win a copy of Steve Kress's The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds playing the IATB Sweepstakes, here's why you should get yourself a copy--its an absolutely amazing resource put together by a legend in the field of bird conservation. While there are literally hundreds of books out there on how to attact birds to your yard--this is one of the very best. Steve Kress has written several other books along this line, but this is the one where he had the freedom to put in all of the extra stuff that wouldn't fit in some of the other books.

As Steve writes in the introduction, "Improving the quality of land for wildlife is the single most constructive step that anyone can take to assist wild bird populations." If you want to help birds, the best place to start is in and around your own home--the bird habitat you have the most control over. As indicated by the subtitle, this book focuses on Creating Natural Habitats for Properties Large and Small. Steve Kress, a Vice-President at the National Audubon Society with a Ph.D. from Cornell, has spent his life researching and practicing the techniques and secrets he shares in this lavishly illustrated 466 page volume dripping with information.

As mentioned, this guide covers a full range of habitats and property sizes, from large rural grasslands or forested tracts, to suburban yards and urban patios. Its more than just a guide to attracting birds, its really a user-friendly guide to bird habitat management--with detailed instructions on how to manage grasslands, forests, and shrublands, as well as over 130 pages on various trees, shrubs, and other bird-friendly plants. If you want to build a pond or small pool for wildlife, its all here. Nest boxes, gott'em, for birds of all kinds. And not just nest boxes, but nesting structures for other birds as well, including owls, geese, loons, and terns. Everything you wanted to know about bird feeders, but were afraid to ask? All right here under one cover.

But, you say, you've seen it all before? Think again! How about detailed illustrations showing exactly how a bird opens a seed? Or how to provide live food for secretive towhees? Or make a nest cone for Mourning Doves? Unless you've been poking around in the scientific journals, you're not likely to have seen a lot of the information in this book before.

So, whether you own a farm, ranch, suburban yard, or apartment balcony, this book contains the best-researched and most useful information you're going to find about how to make your property better for birds--and will teach you a lot about birds in the process. Unfortunately, we all can't spend time individually with Dr. Kress as he works to bring puffins and other seabirds back to abandoned islands off the coast of Maine, but through this book, we can work shoulder-to-shoulder with him to bring more birds back to the yards and properties that make up our own mini-Edens.

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