Our favorite bird books

Here’s a list of books about birds recommended by Vashon Audubon members.

We welcome you to add your own favorites using the “Leave a reply” box below.

The Birds of Vashon Island, Ed Swan, 2013 (second edition). A must-have for anyone interested in Island birds. You’ll learn about Vashon’s natural history and about the birds you might see, and when. Ed is planning to offer a course on the Island after current social distancing restrictions have ended. – Recommended by Adria Magrath

Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife,  John Marzluff, 2014. Marzluff is the University of Washington’s avian conservation biologist. He owns a cottage and has family on Vashon, so we can count him as practically our own! Subirdia is a fascinating and inspiring book about how songbird species and populations respond to different landscapes. Years of research by Marzluff and his students indicate that suburban and rural landscapes (such as most of Vashon) are capable of supporting large numbers of bird species and individuals and includes guidelines for maintaining bird-friendly habitats.

For those who don’t want to bite off the entire book, the main points of Subirdia are summarized in a short article, Birdland, published in the free online magazine Aeon.  Marzluff’s research is highly relevant for those who care about songbird habitat in the Puget Sound region. – Recommended by Jim Evans

One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives, Bernd Heinrich, 2016.  Heinrich is a noted biologist and author. This book is composed of short pieces about bird encounters and observations outside of his formal research. I’ve just begun the book, but the first piece, “Flickers in the House,” was so utterly delightful (while full of fascinating natural history) that I read it a second time, aloud, to my partner, to the delight of both of us! – Recommended by Jim Evans

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls, Paul Bannick, 2016. Paul has delighted Vashon audiences with his presentations about owls. Vashon Audubon will be inviting him to speak again; enjoy his book in the meantime! – Recommended by Adria Magrath

Flights of Imagination: Extraordinary Writing About Birds, Richard Cannings, editor, 2010. Twenty short and eloquent essays. You can read one a day! – Recommended by Sarah Driggs

Bird Note: Stories about Birds, the Environment and More. Not a book, but a wonderful collection of stories you can read or listen to on the Bird Note website. – Recommended by Sarah Driggs

A Charm of Goldfinches, and Other Wild Gatherings, Matt Sewell, 2016. You might have heard of a “murder of Crows,” but what about a “crown of Kingfishers”? This little book, filled with charming illustrations of birds and other animals, explores these labels. Interested in a “convocation of eagles,” anyone? – Recommended by Sarah Driggs

The Birder Murder Mysteries, a series of novels by Steve Burrows. These are just for fun. Follow the investigations of Domenic Jejeune, a Canadian detective and avid birdwatcher. – Recommended by Sarah Driggs

H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald, 2016. One of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, and one of my most favorite books about birds. – Recommended by Cheryl Richmond

Effin’ Birds: A Field Guide to Identification Hardcover, Aaron Reynolds, 2019. An irreverent field guide featuring more than 200 of the rudest birds on earth. NOT for the easily offended. – Recommended by Cheryl Richmond

Two good children’s books (both Caldecott winners):
Owl Moon, authored by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenher, 1987. A story about what happens one winter night when a little girl and her father go owling.

Raven, a Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest, Gerald McDermott, 1993. A Native American folktale about how the sun came to be in the sky.
– Both recommended by Cheryl Richmond

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