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2018 was designated as the Year of the Bird (official website). As their final event event of the year, the organizers are calling on people to share their love of birds. To participate, we're going to explore a variety of exciting new children's books about birds this week.

So many great children's books about birds and birdwatching have been published this year that today we are going to double up.

For the youngest reader we have Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Richard Jones (nominated for a 2018 Cybils Award.)

In a clever juxtaposition, this picture book is not only about how birds build nests, but as the author explains on page 2, it is also about the physics of forces.

 Turning around and around, pushing with her whole body, she makes a snug little cup, smooth and soft on the inside.

In the back matter there are questions to ask about pushing and pulling and a simple activity suggestion.

Bird Builds a Nest is a perfect choice for fledgling scientists and birdwatchers alike.

Activity Suggestion:

Build a child-sized nest (our post from 2008!)

Age Range: 4 - 6 years
Publisher: Candlewick (January 17, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0763693464
ISBN-13: 978-0763693466

Our second choice, Warblers & Woodpeckers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding by Sneed B. Collard III, is for adults and older kids.

Have you heard of the birdwatching event known as Big Year? It is an informal challenge associated with the American Birding Association where birders try to see and or hear as many different species of birds as possible within a single year.

Sneed B. Collard III and his adolescent son Braden did a Big Year challenge in 2016. To try to experience as many birds as possible, they traveled to birding hot spots throughout North and South America. Warblers & Woodpeckers is a record of their many adventures. From encounters with "killer" bees to spotting a Northern pygmy owl in the pines, their travels will keep readers enthralled.

The book contains some color photographs of the birders and some of the birds they found. You can see much more at their Father Son Birding blog.

Warblers & Woodpeckers might just inspire young adults to try their own big adventure, whether it is a Big Year or a another challenge that comes from their own interests. Check out a copy today.

 

Activity Suggestion

Keep a journal of your own birding experiences.

 

Previous titles by Sneed B. Collard III reviewed here at Growing With Science:

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Mountaineers Books (August 17, 2018)
ISBN-10: 168051136X
ISBN-13: 978-1680511369

Don't forget our growing list of books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: These books were provided for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can show you 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.

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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.

For Nonfiction Monday we have a new Middle Grade book, Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever by Sneed B. Collard III.

It's a great title, but how much fun is the book, really? Let's take a look.

Starting out, it is written in an animated conversational tone, with a touch of silliness thrown in. Here's a sample:

"The thorax, or middle part, of an insect is its transportation center. Insect manufacturers always attach an insect's legs to its thorax. If you see an insect with legs on its head, don't buy it!"

The information is handled in a less-than-serious way, as well. For example, there is a table in the introduction comparing the known number of species of different animal groups. Kids might not look too closely until they realize one of the categories is comic-book superheroes (there are more than 1,000 different comic-book superheroes according to the author.) The conclusion that the number of insect species far exceeds the number of species in other animal groups comes through loud an clear, regardless of any humor. If adding superheroes to the mix makes a reader pay more attention, then good for Mr. Collard.

Some parts appear to be serious. The illustrations are color photographs, most taken by the author. On the other hand, on page ten is an illustration of an insect's anatomy hand-drawn by the author's son. The back matter includes the standard glossary and index, but no list of books or websites to learn more. Instead the author encourages kids to go outside and observe insects in the real world.

All in all, Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever is a must-have title for budding entomologists and kids interested in biology. It will also appeal to kids who enjoy their nonfiction on the lighter side, making it an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Check out a copy today.

Related:

Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (March 21, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1580896421
ISBN-13: 978-1580896429

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 or cover links 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.

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.