Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Worm or Shall I say Bird

With the weather getting cooler and the days getting shorter, I have found myself sitting around at home more which has been a bit of a shock to my system lately considering I would spend much of my free time outdoors, looking at birds, running, walking woods, etc. but much of that can't be done anymore after work so I have had to come up with other things to do including finally catching up on many of the old vintage bird and nature books I have bought over the past few months.

I have a fascination with the past and history and that includes older books. Before birding I would collect those old 1930's to early 50's movie and music magazines with a special interest during World War II which in my opinion some of the best movies and music were made during that time era. I still have all of these packed neatly in boxes and collecting dust I'm afraid, but I have quickly found something to replace them and they all have feathers (what else is new!)
Life Nature Library: The Birds by Roger Tory Peterson: Copyright 1968

I have several types of vintage bird books with the majority of them being a combination of both pictures and information because I find the pictures help a lot with bird identification as it gets imprinted into memory without even trying. Love the picture of the Least Bittern above which according to the book is "beak high and striped front displayed a Least Bittern tries to merge into its reedy background". Is this a cool looking bird or what!!
Life Nature Library: The Birds

I also love looking at the old books because many of the birds we know today were referred to something different back then like this American Kestrel above who was more commonly referred to the the Sparrow Hawk in the past.
Life Nature Books: The Birds

And had to post the picture above for all of you at the Forbush Bird Club Meeting last week when DCR came in to talk about tagging and banding gulls. Can you imagine them having to attempt this. Look at the deep concentration in the woman to the left! According to Life, "this Herring Gull is squirted with a scarlet spray in a project to ascertain the habits and range of gulls from six colonies along the New England coast". The Herring Gull doesn't look at all happy with the color choice and I wonder what the other gulls thought when they saw it for the first time!
And I don't just collect adult books either, but kids books too. I find that many of the second hand book shops will have books like the one above that sits on the shelf for ages collecting dust, so I scoop them up eagerly and get them off their hands.
National Geographic: Baby Birds and How they Grow: by Jane R. McCauley: Copyright: 1983-Hooded Warbler
And then I also lean toward very detailed books with very little pictures but filled with tons of graphs and charts because I really like graphs and charts. The book above has a copyright of 1969 and was part of a study to analyze raptor predation. The study was conducted in Township, Michigan.
Chart showing the winter food selection by Rough-legged Hawks.
And then of course, there are those book you buy for light reading like this 535 page book called the Ducks, Geese & Swans of North America by Frank C. Bellrose, copyright 1953. This book is filled with fabulous charts and graphs like the one above of the Mallard which shows migration patterns in various regions of the United States.
And a comparison with the American Black Duck which I thought was very interesting to cross compare
And then there are times when I just leaf through the books and look at the birds, trying to figure out what I want on my list next year (similar to how most women catalog shop, but I do it with birds instead ;0) ). The gorgeous photo of the American Avocet above, comes from the book The National Audubon Society Collection Series: North American Birds by Barbara Baur with a copyright of 1984. Wish a selling price of $3.00 who was I to resist!!!
The book I am currently engrossed in and can't put down is Waterbirds of the Northeast by Winston Williams, Copyright 1989. Check out the name above for the Green Heron. I had never heard of a Green Heron referred to as the Green-backed Heron so I did some googling and found this at the Cornell All About Birds site: "The Green Heron is part of a complex of small herons that sometimes are considered one species. When lumped, they are called Green-backed Heron. When split, they are the Green Heron, the widespread Striated Heron, and the Galapagos Heron."
This book also has some of the best photographs of birds I have seen in a while. Check out the photo of the Belted Kingfisher above. Is he a handsome devil or what!! Love the fact that the fish is almost as big as him!
And a view of a Great Egret I had never thought of before. This is how one looks to a fish!
And one of my number one target birds for 2009, the Cattle Egret. Seriously I could look at this bird all day.
And now I know why all of the shorebirds departed swiftly when the Great Black-backed Gull was walking toward the shore in Plymouth. A shocking photo indeed. Poor little tern, but that's nature for you!
And decided to leave you all with a blast from the past, the good old Oldsquaw, now referred to as the Long-tailed Duck to be politically correct. So funny to see the original names in some of the books.

Anyhoo, as you can see birding has been kind of dull the past couple of days, but not to worry. I have 4 days off starting Thursday and I am certain I will get out there here and there even if it means an umbrella. After all, the gulls are always out rain or shine. ;-)

Take care all and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!


matthew houskeeper said...

I like this post very much! Sometimes the unorthodox posts seem more intersting to me.
Happy Thanksgiving Kim. I hope you don't feel overwhelmed with guilt as you are cooking and eating turkey

Robert Mortensen said...

I had that book "Baby Birds and how they grow" as a small child. I had completely forgotten it until I saw the picture of it on you blog...and oh the wave of memories that washed over me upon seeing it. I can see now that my birding interests indeed began much further back than I previously realized.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I have a small collection of vintage bird books too and am looking forward to diving into them this winter. I also started collecting old bird call albums- both lp's and 45's. They're fun to listen to. I'll have to do a post about them one day.
Happy Thanksgiving Kim- to your family too.

Rich said...

Kim, you really are fascinating.
Great information!!!

John said...

I love older bird books; it's interesting to see how people approached the natural world in years past. I have a copy of Ducks, Geese & Swans of North America. It's a good resource. Hawks, Owls and Wildlife looks very interesting. I tend to look for older stuff from my own region. I have copies of Bird Studies at Old Cape May, first published in 1937, and Spring in Washington, written in the mid 1940s.

madcobug said...

Looks like you have plenty of books to keep yourself entertained during the cold weather to come. Helen

Christopher said...

In one word - COOL!

I really enjoyed this post and it will defninitely have me looking closer at those older bird-related books whenever I run across them!

Kim said...

Matthew, I am so glad to hear that. Expect more of them now that birding will be sure to slow down! ;-). I even have bird books now coming from book publishers for me to review and put on my blog so I can definately see more bird books in my future! BTW: I am not having turkey this year, but fish instead. After all, that is what the pilgrims ate for the 1st Thanksgiving! ;-)

Robert, I am so glad I was able to re-jog a good memory of your past. It's funny how tidbits of information sometimes come back to remind you of signs that a certain hobby may have even been imbred in you while you were young. One of my best memories of my grandmothers lake in NH were Common Loons. I used to get up early in the morning just to see them and hear their call. I had forgotten about them until recently.

Lynne, I had no idea they had LP and 45's with bird calls. OMG!! I have an old vintage record player too. Will start keeping my eyes peeled.

Thanks Rich! I have a hyper active mind and am used to juggling multiple hobbies and interests so I never get bored! ;0)

John, I agree about the interest level in how much different things were in the past. I was once a collecter of vintage clothing with one of them being hats and have quite a few from the 1930's with feathers. Now that I have read up on the history of the slaughter of millions of birds I don't even want to look at them anymore. While I am fascinated with the past, I am so happy some things have changed but would like to see more. Conservation being my number one issue!!

Yes Helen, I am sure these books will keep me occupied for a while and then when I am bored, I will run to Amazon for more! :-p

Christopher, definately keep your eyes open. The second hand book shops will usually have a nature section and that's the first place I go. Flea markets are good too!

NCmountainwoman said...

Being a lover of both birds and old books, I love this post! The old bird books are fascinating.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Kelly said...

Enjoyed this post...we are birds of a feather. I collect vintage bird books too. I love them. I guess it all goes back to the neat information in my "first field guide" from when I was in the first grade in 1968--"Teach me About Birds--Flash Cards in Full Color." I love the writing style of the older books and the beautiful paintings. Happy Thanksgiving, Kim!

Steve Borichevsky said...

I've seen lots of gulls fighting and chasing each other but I've never see one look as pissed off as the one getting painted.

Tom Pirro said...


About 5 years back I found a green Great Black-backed Gull on Crystal Lake in Gardner. I recall the data I received back was that Gulls in northern Maine and one of the Martine Provinces of Canada were using similar dyes.

Kim said...

NC, I agree about the old bird books which is why I can't resist buying them whenever I pass one!

Kelly, I have seen photos of those flash cards! You are so lucky to be introduced to birds at such a young age and to have such nifty tools for ID no less.

LOL Steve, I have to agree with on that. He looks none to pleased.

Tom, very interesting. I would have thought they would have stopped using gulls long before that due to what I would guess would be public outcry as it does seem rather cruel! ;-). Very cool find though and even more cool considering where it came from. It beats the Ring-billed at Lincoln Plaza anyday!

Kim said...

"stopped using gulls" should be "stopped using dyes" obviously. Just had a double espresso and am on overdrive.


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