Ireland's Garden Birds
Ireland's Garden Birds - How to Attract, Identify and Care for Garden Birds - By Oran O'Sullivan and Jim Wilson - 200 pages, full colour illustrations - Collins Press - ISBN: 9781905172733
It is a sad fact [see Fatbirder news story today] that many species of birds in Irewland are in decline… indeed Corn Bunting has been removed from the endangered list as it is now extinct in the island of Ireland! Some are in critical danger and like all species in our increasingly man dominated world, they need our help and conscious intervention if our natural worlds is not to be irreparably impoverished.
Hot on the heels of this news come several new publications on Irish birds and one of the most practical, and of most general public interest is ‘Ireland’s Garden Birds’. This practical illustrated guide to Ireland’s Garden Birds and wildlife gardening provides the know-how to attract birds into your garden and care for them. Its focus is the 56 birds most likely to be seen from an Irish home and the book highlights a range of plants and planting schemes to make sure you maximize food and nest sites and so maximize the number of different species you can see from your window. Practical gardening is emphasized and native species are championed too so that you not only do yourself and the birds some good, but you minimize the incursion of non-native species.
Each species is described for the bird lover not the bird expert providing all the ordinary [person needs to know about songs and calls, feeding and breeding, abundance and ID. Throughout the book photographs are used in a truncated form to clear away backgrounds and make the images easier to see.
The text is pretty faultless, hardly surprising as it is written by a pairing of a longtime nature writer and an ornithological professional and the many useful facts are supported by much suggestion and practical tips.
My one big carp are the bird illustrations. The photographic and print quality is very variable and this spoils what would otherwise be a four star book. Moreover, given that the pictures are primarily there to help the ordinary householder to identify what they see the task would have been better served by good line drawings that clearly point out the differences between similar birds. Some birds, like chiff-chaffs and willow warblers are hard for even birders and ALL the differences need to be highlighted and clear in illustrations such as wing length, and behaviour not just indicated in the text… such as the busy tail flicking habit of chiff-chaffs… but emphasized as helping to split it from a similar species. Ornithologists and publishers should also realize that 90% of people will pick up the book and try to match the illustration with the bird they just saw without even a cursory glance at the words that go with it. On the photos alone it would be hard from this book to split song thrush and mistle thrush.
Having had my moan I would, nevertheless, give the book two thumbs up as it caters for a growing group of people with a general worry about the environment who are keen to do their bit and enjoy the fruits of that effort.
Buy this book from www.nhbs.com
Created: 21st Oct 2008