________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010


Birds of Canada.

Tyler L. Hoar, Ken De Smet, R. Wayne Campbell & Gregory Kennedy. With contributions from Krista Kagume.
Edmonton, AB: Lone Pine Publishing, 2010.
528 pp., hardcover, $39.95.
ISBN 978-1-55105-603-6.

Subject Headings:
Bird watching-Canada.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4



Barely larger than an hummingbird, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is the smallest songbird in North America. The birds are rather tame and can often be coaxed closer by making squeaking or “pishing” sounds. Identify kinglets from afar by their perpetual motion and chronic nervous wing flicking. These diminutive wonders forage by hanging upside down or hovering, and picking at the undersides of leaves.

Surprisingly hardy, these birds nest throughout the boreal forest and overwinter at northern latitudes. In winter, Golden-crowned Kinglets are commonly seen and heard among multispecies flocks that often include Black-capped Chickadees, Boreal Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers. These small flocks move through forests, decorating tall spruces, pines, firs and naked deciduous hardwoods like Christmas ornaments.

Birds of Canada, the latest edition to the wonderful Lone Pine series of regional guides to North American birds, covers the whole of Canada with detailed information about the 451 species that are seen regularly. It is well laid out with excellent use of colour coding and visual and well as textual indexes, so that there is a variety of ways to access the information quickly, a useful trait in a field guide. But the great advantage of this book over other field guides is that it includes both a photograph and one-to-four illustrations of each bird. Another strength of the book is the lengthy introduction. It gives a summary of the habitats across Canada, suggested viewing sites in each province and territory, information about Canadian migration routes, and general information about bird watching and conservation. As the book is intended for the novice or casual observer rather than an experienced birder, common terms are used rather than jargon (e.g. “eyebrows” – not “supercilium”), and a conversational tone is employed.

internal art     The bird species are grouped in the usual scientific order, and each is given a separate page. Half the page is devoted to describing the bird’s behaviour and distinguishing characteristics in a manner that makes the bird come alive and memorable. This section includes full colour illustrations of the bird with separate pictures for male and female where they differ significantly, and often there are additional illustrations showing the bird in flight or in different plumage. Unlike many field guides, there is no attempt to illustrate all the plumages for each bird by age, season, gender, etc. but to present the forms most commonly seen. The middle quarter of each page is sub-divided into seven categories of ID (physical description); Size (in metric); Habitat (when breeding or migrating); Nesting habits; Feeding behaviour; Voice (songs & call); and Similar Species (comparisons given with subtle differences noted and page number provided). The bottom quarter of each page contains a photograph and a map showing its distribution in Canada, and the latter is coloured to show seasonal and migrating ranges.

      For children and adults with an abiding interest in the avian wildlife sharing our urban and rural environments, this comprehensive guide will be invaluable. Highly recommended for school, library and home collections.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews, a recently retired librarian, resides in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.