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The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds
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The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  85 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
While birding literature is filled with tales of expert observers spotting rare species in exotic locales, John Yow reminds us that the most fascinating birds can be the ones perched right outside our windows. In thirty-five engaging and sometimes irreverent vignettes, Yow reveals the fascinating lives of the birds we see nearly every day. Following the seasons, he covers ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by University of North Carolina Press
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Cheryl
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't mind keeping this forever and rereading it periodically, a bit at a time, just as I have been doing. But I've decided not to hoard, and to send it to my mom, who can then pass it on to other friends. Instead, I'll read some of the many books he references.

Highly recommended if you're interested, and I do want more by Yow or more related. The closest I've already read is The Minds of Birds by Alexander F. Skutch, which was amazing, and I recommend it even more highly, but it's not qui
...more
Diane
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Nancy and Peter
Yow presents about 3 pages of information about different 40 birds, each with a black and white reproduction of an Audubon print. It took me a few chapters to start enjoying his approach. He has a basic outline in a chatty, self deprecating style - description, mating behavior, nest and nesting building, raising the young, and miscellaneous historical and contextual comments. He uses (and cites) well-known ornithologists and bird people from Audubon to Burleigh, to Birds of North America Online, ...more
Corky
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting glimpse of bird watching from a backyarder. As a backyard birder myself, I found Yow's descriptions of his yard visitors antics to be quite on the ball and fun. I also learned a few bird facts that I did not know. Such as cardinals won't eat from feeders in the late fall when they are molting as they must ingest a certain amout of carotene to retain their beautiful coloring. I always wondered why they kept my feeders empty during spring, summer, and early fall and then di ...more
Gaye
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was NOT excited to find this topic on my book club list, but I REALLY liked this book. I do not know one bird from another but this book was humorous, informative, and a quick read. The author chose 40 birds that he finds frequenting his GA. locale. He then proceeds to give a quick overview of each of the 40 birds. I am looking forward to reading the other bird book for book club - Birdology.
cat
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
bird geek alert! this book was exactly what i had hoped for - an interesting mix of bird facts and well-written birdwatching observations. as the publicity put it, "John Yow's "The Armchair Birder" is here to remind us that the most fascinating birds can be the ones perched right outside our windows." and right he is, with great essays on 35 different birds including some of my personal favorites, the woodpeckers and the nuthatches who pay regular visits to my feeders.
Avary
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: green, second-read
Not a book to read straight throug but to enjoy in pieces when the mood hits. It's not a field guide, but more a compilation of Yow's personal observations of birds in his yard and things he has read about them -- just what the title says it is. I recommend it for anyone in our part of the country who hangs a feeder in his yard.
I've not read the entire book, but keep it by the window with my binoculars.
Linda
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This wasn't my normal type of book to read, but I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot about different birds and the author has an easy to read style that made it a fun book to curl up with on a cold Winter day.

He lives down South, but he covered many of the common birds that we also see on the East coast of Canada; the robin, crow, chickadee, blue jay and many others.
Jules
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really have enjoyed reading this book! It's full of really interesting tidbits about the behavior of birds, the very factoids that are missing from my bird identifier books and that I've been craving. It is well written and researched with a nice touch of humour. I will buy this book as gifts for friends and for myself since my read was from Lamont.
KRom
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you are a bird-aphile , this book will give you some rather extraordinary and often hilarious insights into the manners of familiar backyard birds. Easy to read style and delightful insights as to how, why, where and with whom! Your bird watching will only be enhanced as you chuckle at what the author conveys about our "backyard flyers".
Harla
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stumbled onto this one when I was pulling books for a display at the branch. I found it full of interesting facts and very easy to read. Did you know that buzzards mate for life and feed their young regurgitated road kill? Neither did I! I know very random facts :-) but this book was full of stuff like this. Amazing what you can learn...
Henry
Jun 12, 2012 added it
A delightful book that focuses on the lives of birds commonly found in America, such as mourning doves, cardinals and red wing blackbirds. I liked it so much that I found myself reading some of the chapters two or three times.
Laurie
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Robin
Pleasant and enjoyable stories about familiar birds in the Southeast. I read the chapters I was interested in and learned a lot. Most of all, I enjoyed getting to know John Yow and his wife through his writing. If I lived in Georgia, I'd want to be their neighbors.
Odoublegood
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
rather derivative; quotes from a set of sources (did love the Audubon quotes) and then adds brief personal commentary; this book is good for reading in bed (brief segments, no suspense); enjoyed the Audubon illustrations even though in black and white
David R.
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Finally, an anthology of bird observations for the rest of us! Yow ably brings his backyard birds to life, combining personal anecdotes with hard data and even adds J.J. Audubon's illustrations (albeit in black and white) for added interest.
Sharon
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book if only it contained photos. I learned some interesting fscts about birds I thought I knew well. will read more by this author.
William
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good but marred by unnecessary political snarkiness
Heidi Marc-Aurele
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These bird essays are so delightful! You'll wish you had 40 acres of woods so that you can sit and watch bird behavior all day long.
Kat Leache
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This one was a lot of fun. I didn't read it from cover to cover, but it doesn't demand that. Loved the chapter on robins! What funny little creatures they are.
Linda
Jun 04, 2012 is currently reading it
So far I have "read" the illustrations and 3 pages in this book, and I just know I am going to enjoy it. I love that happy feeling of anticipation at the start of a new book!
Fiddlin' Holley
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
great way to start with getting to know a variety of birds and their habits
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