Book Review: “This is a Book for People Who Love Birds”, by Danielle Belleny

This charmingly illustrated, travel-size book introduces readers to both birds and birding, including birds’ evolutionary history, anatomy, and behaviors and a substantial list of North American species and where to find them. For a novice birder or bird enthusiast, this little book is full of interesting information. The language is easy to understand, and many tidbits leave you curious to learn more (not to mention, upping your game at any potential bird trivia events!).

Author Danielle Belleny embeds a humorous voice throughout her writing, evoking the fondness many often feel when listening to their favorite teacher go on passionate rants. This isn’t a dry encyclopedic inventory of birds – this is an interpretive guide with vivid descriptions of the natural history and behaviors of birds, as well as insightful observations into the world of bird-watching. You’ll no doubt enjoy imagining the clumsy Tufted Puffins “come in for a crash landing” at the end of a flight, or picturing the variety of twig-related mating rituals displayed by White Ibises. You might learn something that gives you a sense of renewed appreciation for more familiar birds. For example, I’ve often wondered why Northern Cardinals seem to be one of the noisiest birds, and now I know they “call and sing frequently to keep in contact with their lifelong mate”. A heartwarming fact!

There is also plenty of food for thought, aspects of birding which you may not have considered before. I remember learning that male birds are the ones who sing as a way to attract mates, and now I know female birds can sing as well, and their songs are drastically under-studied by comparison. And there is much work to be done in accurately and inclusively telling the history of birding, which typically tells the story of white European men from the last century and a half. However the significance of birds in indigenous mythology, spiritual, and cultural beliefs, around the world, has existed for hundreds of years.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “This is a Book for People Who Love Birds” and would recommend it as a perfect gift for any outdoor enthusiast, traveling bookworm, newbie and even expert birder. Let’s hope this won’t be Danielle’s last project sharing her extensive knowledge and insight with the rest of us! Purchase a copy for yourself, and find the author on Instagram @bellzisbirding.