The characteristics of at least two dozen birds -- their appearances, habits, temperaments and distinguishing features- are related in descriptive verses which are intermittently effective. Few children, we think, will respond to -- ""His lovely wife in her feminine way, is more refined in her attire"". More will appreciate ""Robin Rodbreast and his wife, Lead a perfect married life"". In contrast to an uneven text are Evaline Ness' splendid illustrations, some in deep brooding colors, others in black and white. These alone may be enough to inspire a new crop of bird watchers.