A chatty, appealing introduction to observing these easiest-to-see of all wild creatures.
Amusing scenes of loquacious birds and occasional human observers fill these busy pages. The pen-and-ink–and-watercolor cartoons are reminiscent of Roz Chast, with speech bubbles carrying much of the information. Where it would be informative, birds are labeled. Their variety is astounding; the page on coloration alone shows 60 different species from across the country. Cate’s enthusiasm is catching, but she starts simply. She talks about looking at birds in one’s backyard and neighborhood, with no special tools except for a sketch book—not since drawing is easy but since the effort requires close attention to details. She addresses color, shape and activities before moving on to using field marks to distinguish similar-looking birds. A comical central spread shows a sparrow fashion show, with the different species sporting their distinctive decorations. She discusses plumage variations, sounds and the use of field guides. The fact that birds look different because they live in different places and behave in different ways leads to consideration of habitat, range and migration. Finally, an explanation of classification includes an introduction to scientific names. The bibliography has good suggestions for birders of any age. Small and accessible, this is jam-packed with accurate information likely to increase any potential birder’s enthusiasm and knowledge. (index, drawing, tips) (Nonfiction. 8-15)