A wide selection of books are available at The Nature Shop in Wedgwood
Book Summaries by Grace Rajendran
In a world where words take flight and imagination soars, one timeless muse has consistently stirred the creative minds of writers, historians, poets, and storytellers alike—birds. From the mythical Phoenix symbolizing rebirth, to the echoing call of the raven embodying mystery, to the repetitive squawks of Henny Penny, birds have served as powerful metaphors, allegories, and sources of inspiration.
Autumn is always a great time to cozy up with a book and be inspired. But before you choose your next great read, take a look at these book recommendations provided by fellow Birds Connect Seattle member, Grace Rajendran. You can also stop by The Nature Shop and ask our volunteers and staff for a book or field guide recommendations. Members always receive 20% off all books!
Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Lyanda Lynn Haupt is an award-winning author, naturalist, ecophilosopher, and speaker based in Seattle, whose writing is known for combining scientific knowledge with literary, poetic prose.
She is a winner of the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Nautilus Book Award, a finalist for the Orion Book Award, and a two-time winner of the Washington State Book Award.
Haupt has created and directed educational programs for Birds Connect Seattle Seattle, worked in raptor rehabilitation in Vermont, and been a seabird researcher for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the remote tropical Pacific.
Her latest book is “Rooted: Life at The Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit” (Little, Brown Spark, 2021) and some of her previous, and well-loved, books include: “Mozart’s Starling,” “The Urban Bestiary,” “Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness,” and “Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds.”
Focusing on her books featuring birds, we start off with “Mozart’s Starling” (Little, Brown), which tells the story of the remarkable bond between the one of history’s most famous composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the little starling who captivated his heart by singing a theme from his Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major. After rescuing a baby starling, Haupt also found herself captivated by their intelligence and playful nature. “Mozart’s Starling” is a tribute to these charming but, in modern times, oft-reviled birds, with intertwined anecdotes of both Mozart’s pet bird and her own, with lots of natural history sprinkled in.
“Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness” (Back Bay Books) examines the lives and lore of our urban neighbors, the crow, and ponders the big questions surrounding the coexistence of our two species. Filled with stories of her own encounters with crows, as well as natural history, mythology, and behavioral studies. Perfect for anyone who is already fascinated by these stunning creatures or curious to learn more.
“Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds” (Sasquatch Books) is a celebration of the birds that are close to home. Haupt shares stories beautifully written, full of love and appreciation, about her own experiences with birds in her own neighborhood. From tales about sparrows to wrens, this book will educate, entertain, and inspire all those interested in birdwatching close to where they themselves live.
“No matter what I’m writing about in the natural world, it is always birds that are the source of my vision. I love the simplicity of their presence. No matter where I am, how happy, how troubled, how close to home or far afield, I can always find a bird to offer a thread of connection, a moment of beauty. When I look into a bird’s shining eyes, I cannot help but slow my pace, quiet my mind, enliven my spirit, and put pencil to paper with a renewed sense of blessing, exhilaration, and purpose.”
Christian Cooper is a science and comics writer and editor, host, and consulting producer of “Extraordinary Birder” on National Geographic. As one of Marvel’s first openly gay writers and editors, Cooper introduced the first gay male character in Star Trek, the first openly lesbian character for Marvel, and created and authored Queer Nation: The Online Gay Comic. He sits on the board of directors for NYC Audubon.
Cooper is a self-described “Blerd” (Black nerd) and a longtime, expert birder who devotes every spring to observing the migratory birds that rest in Central Park. On one of these birding trips, in May 2020, he had the now infamous encounter with a dog walker, that earned him the nickname, “Central Park Birder.”
In his new book, “Better Living Through Birding” (Random House, 2023), Cooper shares the story of his life leading up to that moment and the ways in which birding prepared him to live the life of a gay, Black man in America.
This tender, honest memoir is written with great compassion and humor and filled with thought-provoking insights about both birds and humans. Readers will also be captivated by the beautiful descriptions of birding expeditions all around the world.
Karen DeWitz is a nature-loving bird nerd. Her happy place is a nest of blankets on her porch in the small woods outside of Oregon City where she can watch and photograph the almost 50 species of birds that visit her backyard. As a former teacher with a master’s degree in education, she understands how to intrigue and inspire young people and has experience both in the classroom and in Northwest forests.
Karen’s book, “Look at That Bird!: A Young Naturalist’s Guide to Pacific Northwest Birding” (Little Bigfoot) is filled with inspiring, full-color photographs and easy to read facts about more than 50 common Pacific Northwest birds. It is sure to inspire kids to learn more about the birds around them.
There is information about birds in general and then enough species-specific facts that will get the young naturalists started with bird identification. There are also fun activities to encourage backyard birding. This is the perfect guide both for kids who are already interested in birding and have some prior experience as well as those who are coming in completely new to the activity.
“Birds are all around us, but many people experience them as white noise until learning something compelling that brings them out of the background and into the spotlight. When we start to see and think about birds individually, they become a gateway into appreciating, and wanting to protect the natural world as a whole. I love photographing and writing about birds to help stir up excitement about (and concern for) all wildlife, starting as close as our own yards and rooftops.”
Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science, nature, and health for more than three decades. Her work aims to explain and interpret science for a lay audience and to explore the riddles of the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with strong storytelling.
She has won numerous awards and fellowships, including a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and a Silver Medal Award for Nature Writing from the International Regional Magazine Association.
Jennifer’s most recent book, “What an Owl Knows: The new science of the world’s most enigmatic birds” (Penguin Press, 2023) was an instant New York Times bestseller. Her other books inspired by birds include: “The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think” (Penguin Press), “The Genius of Birds” (Penguin Press), “Birds by the Shore: Observing the Natural Life of the Atlantic Coast” (Penguin Press).
“What an Owl Knows: The new science of the world’s most enigmatic birds” is a thoroughly researched, eloquent examination of a bird that has fascinated people throughout history explores many of the questions surrounding these elusive creatures. Ackerman investigates almost every aspect of owl biology and natural science, including their evolution into nocturnal hunters, beguiling behavior, and the subtle nuances of their hoots. For example, she points out that a “hoot is not just a hoot” and explains the differences between greeting, territorial, and emphatic hoots.
Filled with many tender anecdotes and scientific data, “What an Owl Knows” will delight all lovers of these elegant and mysterious birds.
In “The Genius of Birds,” Jennifer Ackerman highlights the intelligence of these incredible creatures, comparing the brain sizes and capabilities of different species. This is an extensively researched book, filled with scientific experiments and findings from all over the world, blended with humor, anecdotes, and the author’s clear love of our avian friends.
About Grace Rajendran
Grace was born in India, lived most of her life in the Caribbean, and now calls Seattle home. Wherever she is, she’s always spent hours admiring the regional birds. Grace enjoys creating art and surrounding herself with books (and has the bookshelves to prove it!). She now works at Seattle Arts & Lectures and has held previous roles as Literary Events Producer for University Book Store and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, as well as reviewer for the e-publication, Shelf Awareness. She looks forward to finding ways to support the mission of Birds Connect Seattle by blending her love of nature with her love of the arts as well as doing all she can to help champion inclusivity within the conservation community.
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