Look at the books

The Village Book Store in Tupelo provided a sampling of some birders’ books:

– “Feed the Birds” by Helen Witty & Dick Witty, $9.95, published by Workman Publishing (ISBN 1-56305-085-4); includes a mesh feed bag for holding suet chunks and cakes, recipes for making your own seed mixes and suet balls, comparisons of various types of feeders and tips on attracting the birds of your choice.

– “Feeding and Sheltering Backyard Birds: A Complete Nature Lover’s Manual,” by Matthew M. Vriends, $5.95, published by Barron’s Educational Series Inc. (ISBN: 0-8120-4252-2); featuring nearly 100 illustrations, descriptions of more than 50 common backyard birds and expert advice on feeders and bird houses.

– “The Bird Feeder Book: How to Build Unique Bird Feeders from the Purely Practical to the Simply Outrageous,” by Thom Boswell, $19.95, published by Sterling Publishing Co. (ISBN: 0-8069-0295-7); features everything from simple plans to the fanciful designs like “Seed for Sail,” a feeder shaped like a sailboat.

– “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds/Eastern Region” by John Bull and John Farrand Jr., $19, published by Alfred A. Knopf Inc. (ISBN: 0-679-42852-6); includes color photos of male and female birds commonly found in this area (grouped by birds’ shape, color, pattern and behavior, such as “Perching Birds”), as well as information on habitats, voice, nesting and range.

– “A Guide to Field Identification/Birds of North America” by Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Bruun and Herbert S. Zim, $11.95, published by Golden Press (ISBN: 0-307-33656-5); includes color paintings of male and female birds, information on identifying characteristics and features and range.

– “A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America,” by Roger Tory Peterson, $16.95, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in the Peterson Field Guide Series (ISBN: 0-395-36164-8); featuring information on summer and winter ranges, breeding grounds and full-color illustrations that include accidentals, exotics and escapes. This book was “The Birder’s Bible” for more than 60 years.

– “More Birding by Ear,” by K. Walton & Robert W. Lawson, $35, published by Houghton Mifflin (ISBN: 0-395-71260-2); featuring three audio cassettes and a booklet on recognizing Eastern/Central region birds by their songs and calls.

Other information nest eggs

Various experts recommended these publications:

– Magazines, including “WildBird,” “Birds & Blooms” and “BirdWatcher’s Digest,” all available on some local bookstore magazine stands. (Hint: The March issue of “WildBird” is $2.95 and has a special on backyard birding.)

– “Developing Backyard Wildlife Habitats in Mississippi,” a publication available from the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson and from the Crow’s Neck Environmental Education Center in Tishomingo County.

– Various videotapes, such as George Harrison’s “Birds of the Backyard” (60 minutes) and “Spring and Summer Songbirds” (60 minutes).

Join the gang

– Project FeederWatch. You can join thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada who jot down sightings at their feeders during 10 two-day periods from November through April. The results tell scientists how certain bird populations are growing or declining and how their continent-wide distributions are changing.

Participants will get helpful issues of the quarterly newsletter and a bird calendar. Dues are $15 annually, and early birds can sign up now for the 1996-1997 project. Credit card users can call 1-800-843-BIRD; others can send checks (payable to Project FeederWatch) to Project FeederWatch, P.O. Box 11, Ithaca, NY 14851-0011.

(Hint: Now’s a good time to join. You’ll get more than a year’s worth of newsletters.)

– National Bird-Feeding Society, P.O. Box 23, Northbrook, Ill. 60065-0023. Dues are $15 annually, and participants receive six bimonthly newsletters, a bird identification/food preference chart, an “I Love Feeding the Birds” bumper sticker, a car decal and other stickers for correspondence. For more information, send a long, self-addressed and stamped envelope to the society’s address.

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