Skip to content

2

Today we have not one, not two, but three fantastic children's books about bird migration nominated for the 2018 Cybils awards.

For the youngest reader we have Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre with contributions by Jeff Sayre.


Photographer and award-winning author April Pulley Sayre and her husband Jeff Sayre have been observing warblers during their annual spring migration for years. Now they share their experiences with this gorgeous book for children.

Warblers are tiny and elusive birds, but the Sayres have captured many wonderful photographs to fill the pages of the book. As she explains on her website, they chose photographs of birds in action to give children the experience of viewing live warblers in nature, rather than choosing those that are simply posed well.

With her succinct and elegant rhyming text, April Pulley Sayre explains where warblers go, what they eat, some of their behaviors, and that warblers migrate at night.

Four full pages of back matter explain why warblers migrate, how scientists track them, and how we can help the birds, among other things.

Warbler Wave is simply wonderful. It is likely to inspire children to take up birdwatching as a hobby or maybe even as a career!

Related:
  • See how to identify yellow warblers at All About Birds
  • April Pulley Sayre has more about the back story and detailed descriptions of each of the birds featured in the book at her website.

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (February 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1481448293
ISBN-13: 978-1481448291

Belle's Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight by Rob Bierregaard and illustrated by Kate Garchinsky follows an osprey on her migration from Massachusetts to Brazil. It is a longer book (112 pages) for older elementary-aged kids.


Ospreys are large birds that catch fish for food. They usually are seen around lakes or streams. They are known to migrate south in the fall and back north in the spring, but many of the details of their flights are still unknown.

Dr. Rob Bierregaard ( Dr. B. as he calls himself in the book) studies osprey migrations. One August he captured an osprey he named Belle on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. He fitted her with a radio transmitter. After he released her, the transmitter sent her location data to a computer so he could study where she went. That fall, Belle flew all the way to the rain forests of Brazil.

In the forward Dr. B. explains that "this is a mostly true story." Belle really made the flight to Brazil and he knew her location at different times, but he used creative nonfiction techniques to fill in details about her experiences and the dangers she faced. For example, while Belle fished for food in Brazil he suggests that she barely missed being captured by a caiman. Afterwards:

At the far end of the lake, she followed a narrow river winding back and forth beneath her like a piece of ribbon candy. Here she finally had better luck and plucked a piranha out of the dark water.

His descriptions of her daily activities are lush and detailed. Readers learn a lot about all the places Belle visits.

Kate Garchinsky's lovely textured illustrations also help bring Belle's story to life. They add excitement and draw the reader in.

Belle's Journey is likely to appeal to youngsters who enjoy reading fiction as well as to those who want to find out more about ospreys and bird migration.

Related:

Visit Dr. Bierregaard's website for more information and maps of osprey migrations.

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (May 15, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1580897924
ISBN-13: 978-1580897921

Our third and final book is the middle grade title Snowy Owl Invasion!: Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle.

In 2013, large numbers of white owls started showing up in lower Canada and along the east coast of the United States where they weren't normally seen. Why were snowy owls migrating to new places?

Sandra Markle used her research skills to track down experts and find the answers. What she discovered was that the snowy owls were experiencing an irruption, which means they migrating beyond their usual range, because their populations had swelled the previous summer. She also found out why, which I won't reveal here. Like Belle in the story above, some of the scientists used GPS transmitters to follow the birds.

The book is filled with amazing photographs of beautiful snowy owls. You can see some in this video.

Snowy Owl Invasion documents a fascinating scientific mystery. Readers of all ages who are interested in nature, science, and/or birds will enjoy this book.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Millbrook Pr (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1512431060
ISBN-13: 978-1512431063

Want to read more? Check out or growing list of children's books about bird migrations at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: These books were provided by my local libraries. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

For STEM Friday this week we have a middle grade science book, The Secret of the Bird's Smart Brain. and More! (Animal Secrets Revealed!) by Ana Maria Rodriguez.

Using a fun format where each chapter reveals a surprise about a different group of animals, the author has found five science stories which often turn conventional wisdom upside down. In the first chapter, the term "bird brain" has a whole new meaning when scientists find that small size has nothing to do with power. In the following chapters readers discover whether birds have a sense of smell, how and why mama bears act during different seasons, and how pig grunts and alligator bellows may have more to say more than we originally thought. The last chapter ends with a hands-on activity for kids to try.

Although it is the animals that draw young readers in (the kunekune pigs are adorable!), the true stars of each chapter are the scientists who are discovering their secrets. The book shows details of how each group of scientists studies the problems, from counting brain cells to recording pig grunts.

The Secret of the Bird's Smart Brain...And More! is the next best thing to taking a field trip with a biologist. Check out a copy today.

Related Activity Suggestions:

Investigate Kunekune Pigs (Chapter 4)

Kunekune pigs are a rare breed from New Zealand. They are prized because of their small size and ability to use grass (to graze) as their main source of food.

Here are two kunekune piglets from the Dallas Zoo:


What do you think the little "tassels" of hair under the chin is all about?

The scientists in the book studied the grunts. You can hear the sounds the pigs make in this video.

Can you hear other sounds in the area besides the pig, like the kids and the chickens? How do you think scientists tune in to just the pig sounds when they want to study them? (See answer below.)

Don't these pigs have interesting colors?  The New Zealand Kunekune Association's page on coat color genetics has a detailed explanation of how genes interact to produce coat colors.

Investigate Bird Brains and Bird Behavior

Age Range: 8 - 11 years
Publisher: Enslow Pub Inc (August 15, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0766088529
ISBN-13: 978-0766088528

Answer:  Scientists trained the pigs they wanted to study to go one at a time into special sound-insulated huts so they could record individual pigs without a lot of extra background noise. Read chapter 4 to find out more.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

1

For STEM Friday, we have a brand new middle grade title, Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugsby Sneed B. Collard III.

An overview of the twenty-two different species of woodpeckers found in North America, it covers what woodpeckers eat, where they live, and reveals many of their unique behaviors.

If you've never read a book by acclaimed science author Sneed B. Collard III, reading Woodpeckers will send you searching for more of his titles. First of all, he and his son (at fourteen years old!) traveled around North America and took the majority of the stunning color photographs in the book. That alone shows their knowledge about and passion for their subjects. Add the fun, conversational tone of the text -- sprinkled with quotes from woodpecker experts -- and you have one amazing book!

In the back matter is a fun two-paged spread of "Woodpecker Photo Bloopers" where Sneed Collard shows all the ways that nature photography can go awry. It is a great section because it reminds us that for every prize-worthy photograph we see, there are hundreds that aren't stunning at all.

Woodpeckers is as chock full of information about these fascinating birds as an acorn woodpecker's tree is full of acorns. Recommended for nature lovers of all ages.

Activities to Accompany the Book

Activity 1. Learn About Your Local Woodpeckers

Take some time to discover what kind of woodpeckers live near you. A good place to start is the All About Birds Identification Website.

Where I grew up, we often saw downy and hairy woodpeckers on bird feeders in the winter, particularly if we provided suet. These are relatively quiet, small birds. They are black and white with only a few red feathers. You can see more about them at Woodpeckers of Western New York.

When I moved to Arizona, we took a trip to Madera Canyon. On the very first day we saw some noisy, active woodpeckers with bright red heads. They couldn't be more different than those I was used to.

We soon learned they were acorn woodpeckers.

 

Photograph of acorn woodpecker from Madera Canyon, Arizona by Alan D. Wilson, retrieved from Wikimedia

Acorn woodpeckers pick acorns off of oak trees, using their beaks. They store the acorns in holes they peck in trees, electric poles, or even the sides of the cabin where we stayed. Later, when acorn season is past, they go back to their stores and pull them out to eat.

Watching acorn woodpeckers work was incredibly entertaining. You can get an idea in the following video:

Encourage older children to take photographs of woodpeckers like Marie Read (in the video) or the Collards did. It is a good way to study woodpeckers more closely.

2. Make a woodpecker feeder

Many types of woodpeckers will visit suet (animal fat) or peanut butter feeders. Simply drill some holes in a round piece of wood and stuff the peanut butter or suet in. Hang the wood from a tree branch or pole where it is only accessible by birds.

Note:  Peanut butter or suet can deteriorate or become rancid when it is warm, so provide it in the winter and clean the feeder regularly.

See more suggestions for making bird feeders on my Pinterest Board

for-the-birds-pinterest-board

Related:

Ages:  9-12
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (April 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0984446095
ISBN-13: 978-0984446094

We've added this title to our growing list of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.