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.

Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds

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.

 

19 Comments on “Book Review: The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds, by Stephen Kress

  1. Jason,
    it’s strange that there are no photos in such interesting book. I guess it’s intended to professionals..

  2. Too bad there aren’t some photos included in this book. However, I think the plant selections would be the section I would be most interested in, and you are right – I can look at photos of those anywhere. Good information is valuable, and it sounds like it covers everything there is to attract birds. A very appropriate book review for someone that has a famous bird residing in their garden! Thanks so much for joining in!

  3. HI! Nice to see another garden in a city but we only have the more ‘normal’ birds visiting ours.. though occasionally our local heron comes past to check out our pond and our sparrow hawk only comes very occasionally – which is lucky as then our robins and tits and finches are safe… thanks for visiting my blog and hope you hear from you too.

  4. I work very hard to attract and take care of the birds that visit my garden and am always open to learning more. It’s too bad that this book couldn’t include more photographs to go with the usually fantastic information. Thanks for the review of the book.

  5. Sounds like a helpful book. Is this how you attracted the thrush? (Just kidding!) Guess I have enough books full of plant pix, but it sounds like photos would help those not as familiar with the horticultural aspects.

  6. What a great idea to have plants for birds listed in a birding book. Not only feeding them is important but providing habitat too.

  7. Thanks for the info. I saw a very strange bird the other day in my yard – it looked exactly like a Thrush, but it didn’t have any white belly (or even if it had, I didn’t notice it). It came to the bird-feeder and then flew away, yet to see her again. Any idea what in can be? It’s body color was more or less like a lightish-sparrow.

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