Bird Watching for Dummies

Bird Watching for Dummies

By Bill Thompson, III
IDG Books Worldwide, 1997

Reviewed by Robin Tuck (
Past President, Utah County Birders

A friend gave me this book, with a little sticky note attached that said "Please do not take this title seriously." This being the first "Dummies" book I have read, I expected it to be a light covering of a complex subject. I was wrong. There are light-hearted stories, humorous personal accounts and off-the-wall rules scattered throughout the book, making it an easy read. An example: where not to use your binoculars - in the bushes next to a nudist colony. This is no light-weight book, the birding information presented is quite complete and written in an easy to understand style.

I hadn't really consider myself a beginning birder, but I learned a lot about birding as I read this book. The author, Bill Thompson, has been the Editor of "Bird Watcher's Digest" for the last three years, and has picked up a lot of useful hints for all birders, not just the beginners. Bill covered the subject completely, beginning with why someone would want to watch birds, progressing from the backyard through optics and field guides to birding tours, concluding with his favorite birding places.

While Bill's description of attracting birds to the backyard had me longing for a bigger backyard, it reinforced many of the things I had already started doing in the space I do have. The description of nesting boxes was of particular interest to me. He covers hole size and floor plan, discussing predator protection and nest monitoring. Bill does not have any patience for house sparrows or starlings nesting in boxes made for our native species which he makes abundantly clear, suggesting that any such be cleaned out of the nest box immediately. As I was reading this, a large flock of starlings was in my yard cleaning
the berries off a Juniper tree, berries which I had wanted left for waxwings, so Bill hit a familiar chord with me.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it to all, even the most expert of birders among us. It will entertain and educate all who read it.

Order this book now.

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