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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bird Listening and Watching

One pleasure about our daily life is listening to and watching the birds that frequent the woodsy areas near our home and the feeders in our backyard. Says author Annette LeBlanc Cate in her latest book Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, "Some people think that nature is something experienced by other people - people who live out in the country." We do not live in the country, but numerous birds provide a welcome connection to the natural world.

Look Up! is formatted like an ideal sketchbook, just what the bird-watching (read the excellent interview with her at to see her distinction between being a bird-watcher, not a birder) author and illustrator promotes in her book. A guide (presumably the author/illustrator) takes readers along on a bird-watching expedition, all the while conversing in speech bubbles with humans and animals. From the basic of observation to sketching techniques to notable colors and shapes to listening closely, the pages are filled with essential things to consider when becoming a bird-watcher.

Some pages feature a "wing tip," advising readers to look in all sorts of locations for birds, to notice the familiar birds around them, to learn about birds' lives in depth, to use a field guide when looking at birds, and to look for birds at zoos, aquariums, and museums. Other fact boxes feature tips in these creative categories: "Be a birdbrain," "Foot note," and "Look closely."

The ink and watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to the observations, conversations, and suggestions. I will definitely be sharing this book as a read-aloud selection when school starts in September.

p.s. The birds in this photo were in the front yard of my friends' neighbors' home in Vermont. They have a deluxe chicken coop with a great chalkboard egg chart on the side, and they made excellent chicken sounds when I walked past them each morning.

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