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The Miscellaneous Club > January 2018: Birds

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message 1: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
January 5 is National Bird Day. This month each participant can decide to read either one or more of the following three books:

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry


message 2: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Crow Smarts was published in 2016
Kakapo Rescue was published in 2010
Hawk of the Castle was published in 2017


message 3: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
Oh wow, they're all quite new. Exciting!


message 4: by Manybooks (last edited Dec 26, 2017 02:08PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
The only book I am able to easily get is Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird, so I will only be reading one of the books.

I am still hoping that I can somehow get the other two, but not holding my breath.


message 5: by Tricia (new)

Tricia Douglas (teachgiftedkids) | 312 comments I loved Hawk of the Castle, both the text and pictures. I liked how factual information was added to the story itself. I gave this book to my grandsons and they also loved it. One of my favorite books of this year.


message 6: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Tricia wrote: "I loved Hawk of the Castle, both the text and pictures. I liked how factual information was added to the story itself. I gave this book to my grandsons and they also loved it. One of my favorite bo..."

When I realised who the illustrator is, I really wanted to get a copy, but have not found one yet.


message 7: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (last edited Dec 26, 2017 02:44PM) (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
And when I realized that Hawk is published by Candlewick Press, I became determined to request it for purchase or for out-of-system ILL... as it's not in any of my systems yet.

The other two are being held for me in the next town over, as soon as I can get out there.


message 8: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Jan 11, 2018 07:42PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird
Did you know that crows can use tools? That’s right, the crows living on New Caledonia, an island north of New Zealand, use plant stems to coax grubs out of logs. Some of these crows even shape plant leaves into useful tools. This book includes lots of other fascinating information, accompanied by gorgeous photos. The author gives credit to evolution, but I believe God created the crows with the intelligence they would need to survive in their environment.


message 9: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry
I love Ibatoulline's realistic acrylic gouache paintings. All of the pages are double-page spreads, with lots of detail, surrounded by a border. In addition to the story text, there is a box of explanatory notes on each spread. There is a really nice painting of the falcon above the people in the air, and a falcon's eye view of the landscape below. All-in-all, an excellent non-fiction/fiction picture book.


message 10: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
Sy Montgomery always writes such interesting books about animals. This book gives a fascinating look at an unusual flightless parrot that lives on only one small island near New Zealand, and which devoted volunteers are trying to rescue from extinction. The author shares how the scientists go about tracking the birds, counting them, and making sure they mate and that their eggs will hatch. One can also see these cute parrots on several YouTube videos with Stephen Fry.


message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Still waiting to see if I can get the hawk and the kakapo books, but I absolutely love Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird

While I most certainly already was well aware of the fact that crows (and other corvids like ravens, rooks and magpies) are very intelligent (and are in fact along with parrots considered the smartest and most clever members of aves, of the class of birds), I really did not know that crows, but in particular the crow species of New Caledonia (an island chain off of New Zealand) not only make use of tools for their food collection (for feeding themselves), but actually tend to construct and build their own tools (and alongside of human beings, alongside of us, are the ONLY animal species that has so far been discovered to fabricate hooked tools). Written and set up in an easy to understand and (at times even) entertainingly humorous (but also always factual and never in any way overly silly or artificial) manner of expression and delivery, Pamela S. Turner describes in Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird all there really is to know (and all that has so far been discovered) with regard to the amazing crows of New Caledonia, but of course first and foremost, their tool use and tool construction (and that this tool use is in no way instinctive but learned and taught behaviour from parents to their brood, to their offspring, very much like it is with humans and our primate cousins).

And while I have to admit that once or twice I did slightly cringe at some of these New Caledonian crows being captured for scientific study and observation, I also very much realise that it both was and remains a scientific necessity to do this in order to show and tell both the public and the rest of the scientific community that the crows of New Caledonia are indeed supremely intelligent and yes, also very much human-like with their tool fabrication, tool utilisation, and how parents teach this habit, these skills to their chicks, to their offspring. For while studying these crows in the wild would of course usually be preferable (and in fact has occurred and does occur), it is certainly not as easy as the detailed and meticulous observation and testing of captured individual birds and is also and importantly so much less environmentally interfering, which is in my opinion very much essential, considering how ecologically fragile an ecosystem New Caledonia has (as an isolated island chain that already has its issues with invasive species, including humans and human-caused disease and non endemic animals such as rats, cats and the the like wreaking potential havoc). And really, from the presented narrative, it rapidly becomes more than clear that the new Caledonian crows that have been captured for observation and testing have for one always been approached and tested/observed in a very much bird/animal friendly manner and for two, have also all been released back into the wild once the testing has been completed (and oh boy, does it ever and sweetly, folklorically and culturally tickle my fancy that two of the New Caledonian crows being tested are called Hugin and Munin, after the Norse God Odin's all knowing, wise and philosophical ravens).

Perfect for both at home and in-class use, and I would warmly and strongly recommend Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird to and for older children above the age ten or eleven (as well as to adults, as there really is no upper limit here) with Andy Comins' accompanying photographs, as well as the ask-the-author section, the detailed and expansive academically sound selected bibliography and well-organised subject index being much appreciated added bonuses (and especially the bibliography truly stands out and much increases the teaching, learning and research value of Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World's Brightest Bird, especially for teachers who might want to use the book in class and desire additional information). Five stars, and truly what I would humbly consider an in all ways perfect science (biology) book for the junior market!


message 12: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
The population of Kakapos is now at 151... good progress!
I found the family tree especially fascinating: https://public.tableau.com/views/TheK...


message 13: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
My five star review of Crow Smarts:

All ages, not just the "second-graders" specifically targeted. Terrific science. I'd amend the title to add "... so far as we know as of now." But otherwise every quibble that I expected to have was answered... and I've read a *lot* of animal cognition books. If you've put any of those on your to-read list because of my rave reviews but are having trouble making time for them, well, read this now... it's much shorter and more accessible, and does cover quite a lot of ground.

For further reading, I'm culling from the interview with the author, the bibliography, and the list of other books in this 'series,' the following:

David Quammen's essay "Has Success Spoiled the Crow?" in Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature.

Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans and In the Company of Crows and Ravens John Marzluff

The Dolphins of Shark Bay

The Elephant Scientist


message 14: by Manybooks (last edited Jan 13, 2018 12:48AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "The population of Kakapos is now at 151... good progress!
I found the family tree especially fascinating: https://public.tableau.com/views/TheK......"


Thanks for the link! Did you click on the video of Scirocco?


message 15: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Jan 12, 2018 08:54PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "The population of Kakapos is now at 151... good progress!
I found the family tree especially fascinating: https://public.tableau.com/views/TheK......"


I second the thanks for the link. The number was up to 154 when I looked at it. And I have watched that video several times--it's hilarious!


message 16: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "The population of Kakapos is now at 151... good progress!
I found the family tree especially fascinating: https://public.tableau.com/views/TheK......"


Yes, it is hilarious, but there is also a sad and thought-provoking subtext with regard to Scirocco, namely that he was completely hand-raised by humans, has thus imprinted on humans and during breeding season considers every human being a possible mate.


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot

Now as much as I have indeed enjoyed Sy Montgomery's Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, I do find the use of the word strange in the title to describe the Kakapo both off-putting and even a bit potentially insulting, as for me, calling an animal species, labelling anything for that matter as strange has right from the onset a bit of negativity adhering to it, and thus, it in my opinion would have been much better and less potentially stigmatising to have called the Kakapo a unique parrot and not a strange one (perhaps just a minor question of semantics, but to and for me, the Kakapo is not a weird, is not a strange, is not an uncanny, but simply a unique and very special type of bird).

Both readable and enlightening, and written in a manner that is neither too factually dry nor too dumbed down, Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot unfortunately also tends to read as massively infuriating and frustrating at times. For even though the account of how the Kakapo species is now being protected is in and of itself generally very much positive and one of dedication, of perseverance (even in the face of challenges and tragic set-backs), of the glorious and appreciated truth that New Zealand is in fact actively trying to save the Kakapo from otherwise certain extinction, the inconvenient but saliently true fact of the matter absolutely remains and will always remain that the current sad plight and critically endangered status of the Kakapo is almost entirely because human activity, is due to deforestation, but also due to humans having introduced non endemic invasive species such as rats, stoats, rabbits, cats, dogs and the like into an ecosystem that had evolved in total isolation (and without any mammals except for a few species of bats) and thus contained many flightless birds and other animals that were instinctively not used to massive predation from the latter. And quite frankly, while I do much appreciate the fact that author Sy Montgomery has been pretty well adamant with regard to faulting humans and our activities, especially our introduction of stoats and rats into New Zealand, there really should have been a bit more harsh criticism and condemnation with regard to domestic cats and dogs, as while they are indeed mentioned as a threat to the Kakapo and other endemic New Zealand birds, personally I feel as though the former has not in any manner gone far enough (almost as if the author is worried about offending cat and dog owners, which might, I guess be politically prudent, but saving the Kakapo and showing how both wild and domesticated non endemic animals have decimated New Zealand's ecosystems is at least in my opinion of considerably more importance than catering to the feelings of pet owners and even farmers).

Now don't get me wrong, I have actually indeed and in fact very much much loved and appreciated my perusal of Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot. And one of my favourite chapters is the section that deals with the hand-raised male Kakapo Scirocco and the problems that have arisen because having been raised by humans, he considers himself to not be a parrot but a human being, that he has imprinted on humans and during mating season tries to mate with humans and not Kakapo females (for while yes, the pictures of Scirocco trying to basically "shag" a human's head are amusing to a point, for one he has very sharp claws that tend to draw blood and for two a hand-raised Kakapo male refusing to mate with female Kakapos because he prefers human company is obviously also not all that conductive for producing more and desperately needed viable Kakapo chicks).

Finally, and even with my mild criticisms, I do absolutely and gladly highly recommend Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (as both Sy Montgomery 's narrative and Nic Bishop's accompanying photographs are evocative, enlightening, and the Kakapo pictures even sometimes rather entertaining, as Kakapos are curious, trusting, will often seemingly seek out human company and activity, and do take rather grand and spectacular photographs), with the select bibliography much academically appreciated (not very many listed books, but most of them comparatively recently published), and especially the mailing address of the New Zealand Kakapo Recovery Program (and how readers can help with financial donations) being both an added (and in my humble opinion a very much necessary and vital) bonus, as these types of animal species recovery missions all cost money (an incubate costs $800.00), and as author Sy Montgomery has stated, every donation, no matter how small, helps.


message 18: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

While the presented poetry of Danna Smith's The Hawk of the Castle is lyrical and indeed, almost song-like, melodiously lovely to read and savour (with the additional prose information on each page an added and very much enlightening, appreciated intellectual informational bonus), I for one have not really been able to enjoy my reading experience all that much, simply because there is not ANY even remote criticism of falconry as a sport featured (for let's face it, falconry basically uses birds for hunting, but unlike with most domestic dogs, these falcons and hawks are NOT ever really free of their constraints, but are constantly tethered or chained and as thus, they are of course always basically at the beck and call of their human owners, and not able to escape or in any way hide themselves either).

And although I have actually and in fact very much enjoyed reading and learning about mediaeval falconry as a subject, as an entity, as a part of the historical culture of the Middle Ages, I did kind of at least expect to have seen some even minor critical musings with regard to the sport of falconry, if not within the verses of the little girl's description of her father and her taking the castle's hawk out for a flight and a hunt, then at least within the additional prose descriptions on each page, on each spread (however, that has absolutely and in fact not occurred, and while I can, after reading the author's note and realising that Danna Smith's father was in fact a falconer sort of understand that she would of course likely be supportive of falconry, I for one and personally find the entire concept of the latter at best rather problematic, especially that it is still seemingly practiced by many and seen as a positive and bird-friendly activity and sport).

And therefore, while I have most definitely appreciated the knowledge obtained on an intellectual and academic level (and that Danna Smith has also included a list of books for further reading and study) and do find Bagram Ibatoulline's accompanying illustrations (and as usual) gloriously lush, descriptive and minutely detailed (but without ever feeling visually overwrought and too busy), I can and will only consider a low three star ranking for The Hawk of the Castle, as I out of principle, do not agree with falconry in and of itself and really had thus both wanted and expected at least some form of criticism thereof.


message 19: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "The population of Kakapos is now at 151... good progress!
I found the family tree especially fascinating: https://public.tableau.com/views/TheK......"


By the way, the video is from a series called Last Chance to See and features Stephen Fry. I have watched the entire Kakapo episode on netflix (and I highly recommend if possible watching the entire episode, as it is incredible, and also incredibly sadly eye-opening, and the scene with Scirocco on the photographer's head is only one small scene). Now to watch the rest of the episodes (which I had watched a few years ago but only remember the first one in any detail, as Stephen Fry manages to break his arm in the Amazonian Jungle).


message 20: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Yes, I watched several of Stephen Fry and the kakapo videos around the time that I first read the book. I enjoyed all of them.


message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen Witzler (kewitzler) | 52 comments What informative reviews. I just picked up all three at the library.


message 22: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "What informative reviews. I just picked up all three at the library."

Please let us know your thoughts about them in this discussion when you have had a chance to read them.


message 23: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5767 comments Mod
I'm still hoping to get "Crow Smarts" from the library but it's a Bookmobile title and we aren't always able to successfully place holds. It sounds great!


message 24: by Manybooks (last edited Jan 28, 2018 05:01AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Yes, I watched several of Stephen Fry and the kakapo videos around the time that I first read the book. I enjoyed all of them."

The (not for children but can definitely be read by children above the age of eleven or so, in my opinion) companion book to the BBC miniseries, Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams is enlightening but also really saddening and majorly depressing, highly recommended but does the book ever get me livid and angry at humans in general and that we simply do not and will not learn with regard to environmental responsibility, protecting animals and that animals are not first and foremost our collective oyster to use and abuse as we see fit.


message 25: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Oct 10, 2020 02:41PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
Not one of the three books for the month, but I just finished reading
Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night by Mark Wilson. Here is my review:
This is a fabulous book about all things owl. The author is a photojournalist, so the book is filled with magnificent photos, large and small, of the 19 species of owls that can be found in North America (from Canada to Mexico). The book begins with general anatomical descriptions of owls--skeleton, sight, hearing,, hunting, feathers, zygodactyl toes, beaks, nesting and breeding. The middle section is devoted to describing each of the 19 species of owl, each with its own couple of pages or so, with more detailed info about its range, the sounds it makes, what it eats, and more. The final section gives some tips on finding owls in the wild (the do's and the many dont's), owl pellets, creating a backyard environment friendly to owls, and a few pages of people who work with owls in some capacity (rehabilitating or researching). The book ends with a glossary, a list of places to see owls in captivity, and an index. In addition to being a photojournalist, the author and his wife also care for 14 owls that cannot live in the wild anymore, and have an education program called Eyes On Owls.
(Sorry Gundula, no bibliography, but still a fantastic book).


message 26: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
Oh very nice. And there aren't too many books about owls for kids right now, as opposed to some other kinds of critters.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7224 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Not one of the three books for the month, but I just finished reading
Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night by Mark Wilson. Here is my revie..."


I think I am a bit fanatical about non fiction books needing bibliographic materials but heck that is the way I am (and I always like doing extra research and finding new books on the same topic).


message 28: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5767 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "I think I am a bit fanatical about non fiction books needing bibliographic materials but heck that is the way I am (and I always like doing extra research and finding new books on the same topic). ."

I agree that it is really frustrating when they are not included, both from an academic perspective and also just for the fun of being able to explore more on the topic if interested. (That said, the owl book does sound cool!)


message 29: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward
This is basic, brief information in picture book format for young children who want to be bird watchers. The text is brief, the painted birds are identified by their common names. The back matter gives some additional information, plus a few ways to get involved as a "Citizen Scientist." The author refers readers to her website for a bibliography.


message 30: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Wilson (kellysclassroomonline) | 23 comments I spend a lot of time on NetGalley, looking for new children's books to blog about. I recently found Waiting for a Warblerand like it a lot.

Waiting for a Warbler by Sneed B. Collard III

Here's the description from NetGalley:
In early April, as Owen and his sister search the hickories, oaks, and dogwoods for returning birds, a huge group of birds leaves the misty mountain slopes of the Yucatan peninsula for the 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico to their summer nesting grounds. One of them is a Cerulean warbler. He will lose more than half his body weight even if the journey goes well. Aloft over the vast ocean, the birds encourage each other with squeaky chirps that say, "We are still alive. We can do this."

Owen's family watches televised reports of a great storm over the Gulf of Mexico, fearing what it may mean for migrating songbirds. In alternating spreads, we wait and hope with Owen, then struggle through the storm with the warbler.

This moving story with its hopeful ending appeals to us to preserve the things we love. The backmatter includes a North American bird migration map, birding information for kids, and guidance for how native plantings can transform yards into bird and wildlife habitat.


message 31: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
Oh I'll have to look into that... thank you!


message 32: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2332 comments Mod
The Magnificent Book of Birds by Weldon Owen
36 species of birds are featured in this oversized, beautiful book. The bird species are from all over the world, and a variety of species from flightless to flighted, large to small, raptor to songbird, land bird to water bird. Each double-page spread depicts one bird species, with several facts listed. Also included is a sidebar "Fact file" which lists where it lives, habitat, length, wingspan, weight, lifespan, and diet. Each spread features a gorgeous painting of the bird, which takes up one-third to one-half of the spread. Young bird lovers will devour this book.


message 33: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6248 comments Mod
Oh yes, that sounds like it would have been perfect when I was a girl!


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