CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 6. . . .October 8, 2010
Did you know that osprey chicks need a kilogram of fish a day each, or that downy woodpeckers at the age of three weeks must be fed every three to four minutes, or that great horned owls are one of the few creatures that will hunt skunks? After reading Canada's Birds, I do. I also know that when a male warbler is trying to woo a female, he may sing up to three thousand songs in one day. The book is full of fascinating facts about Canadian birds.
Covered in this book are black-capped chickadees, great horned owls, downy woodpeckers, killdeer, ruby-throated hummingbirds, northern shovelers, osprey, ruffed grouse, yellow warblers, and ravens. Each bird comprises its own chapter. Most chapters cover the size of the bird. Size descriptions are done by comparison which I believe will give children a better sense of the size of the bird than would measurements. For example, a downy woodpecker is about the length of a pen, and a female ruby-throated hummingbird weighs as much (or should I say as little) as a nickel. All of the chapters also cover feeding habits, nest building, eggs and life with young birds. Most chapters deal with the bird's adaptations for winter. Where the bird can be found in Canada is covered inconsistently. A helpful addition would have been the inclusion of small graphic with a Canadian map with colour to illustrate each bird's habitat.
Not only would these maps have provided additional information, but they would have also broken up some fairly text heavy layouts. On many of the two-page spreads, there's only a single photograph, some only covering one-eighth of the spread. Despite the reasonably large font, this amount of text might seem daunting to beginning readers. The photographs that are included are bright, attractive and focused on images which support the text.
Renée Englot, a former junior high school teacher, now works as a professional storyteller in school settings. She holds a Master of Arts in Children's Literature.
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