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The Owl and the Woodpecker

Into the lives of birds

The Owl and the Woodpecker, written and photographed by Paul Bannick and published by The Mountaineers Books, gives a vivid glimpse into the lives of North American owls and woodpeckers.

The photography depicts birds, such as northern pygmy owls preening one another after mating, a northern hawk-owl feeding a vole to his fledgling and a hairy woodpecker excavating a nesting cavity in an aspen tree. Bannick’s masterful photography offers intimate insight into the lives of these birds.

The main body of this book is organized by region, which is helpful for travelling birders. Another interesting aspect is the inclusion of birds that have symbiotic relationships with woodpeckers and owls, such as western bluebirds that nest in cavities excavated by woodpeckers.

One appendix to The Owl and the Woodpecker is a concise field guide that describes each bird, describes its habitat and distribution—and offers information on nesting and other interesting facts.

My favourite appendix to this book is a CD of bird calls and drumming by Martyn Stewart that can be loaded onto your iPod. This serves as a great mobile resource for birders who differentiate between visually similar species by studying habits and listening to calls.

The index includes each species of bird, as well as regions and tree species. Including the tree species is a great way to help naturalists and birders orient by habitat.

While this book is a coffee table book and not a field guide, it is an excellent educational resource and source of enjoyment for birders. Anyone who has been challenged to imagine bird calls from the descriptions offered in Audubon’s guides will be thrilled by the fine recordings on the CD.

I highly recommended this book.

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