by Grant McCreary
Field guides and family books, travel narratives and even philosophical treatises – I love all kinds of bird books. But perhaps the most important bird books are those dealing with conservation. It’s unfortunate that this is the case, but at least there are some excellent books relating the plight of birds and what we can do to help.
The best way to understand the state of bird conservation in the Americas is to read The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation (University Of Chicago Press, 2010). Well, maybe more like peruse than full-on read, because this beautifully illustrated book covers everything: the top threats, species accounts, habitat-level issues, current conservation measures, and more.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with endangered birds. I love seeing pictures of them, reading their stories, and fantasizing about seeing them someday. If you can relate, The World’s Rarest Birds (Princeton University Press, 2013) is for you. This beautifully illustrated book covers the 590 rarest birds in the world. On a more local level, Lynn Barbers’ Birds in Trouble (Texas A&M University Press, 2016) features 42 birds of the United States and Canada that are, well, in trouble. Enhanced by her charming paintings, Barber’s accounts have more of a personal touch.
Learning about rare birds is well and good, but is empty without action. But what can you or I do? Thankfully, Laura Erickson tells us exactly what we can do in 101 Ways to Help Birds (Stackpole Books, 2006). You can’t get more practical than these tips for both at and away from home. Even if we all implemented just one of these suggestions that we weren’t already doing, it would make a profound impact for birds.