Book Review: The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds, by Stephen Kress
This book has impeccable birder credentials, sponsored by both the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab or Ornithology. If I could have only one book on having a bird-friendly garden in the USA or Canada, this would be the one. It covers the basics – food, nesting, water, cover – in a more comprehensive manner than any of the other books I have seen on the topic.
The land management chapters deal with both backyard habitats and larger landholdings of forest, grassland, and shrubland.
My favorite chapters deal with plant selections. These are especially valuable because plants are listed regionally, with separate lists for the Northeast, Southeast, Prairies and Plains, Mountains and Deserts, and the Pacific Coast. Plant charts provide information on specific birds attracted by various plants, as well as plant descriptions and cultural information.
The section on nests includes information on both nest boxes and plantings that provide safe and attractive nesting sites. Challenges such as parasites, predators, and competition from invasive species are addressed. Water features, both simple and elaborate, are discussed, as well as aquatic plants. Finally, there is a thorough review of the dos and don’ts of supplemental feeding.
This book’s only serious shortcoming is the complete lack of photographs or any colored illustrations. This is a book for information, but not for sighing over the beauty of various plants and birds (I have a lot of those). The line drawings used for illustrations are adequate, but not inspiring.
Stephen Kress, The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds (Second Edition), Cornell University Press, 2006.