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Clive Dobson.

Scarborough (ON), Firefly Books, c1981.
Distributed by Firefly.
127pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-920668-17-8.

All Ages.
Reviewed by Elinor Kelly.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.

Feeding birds in winter is a popular hobby for all ages, from little children to senior citizens. Nothing gives more pleasure than seeing a flash of red as a cardinal, such as the one pictured on the cover of this book, alights at the feeder or that other flash of red or crushed raspberry. Was it a purple finch or a house finch?

The varied contents of this book will be helpful to any prospective bird feeder. They include how to start, a list of fifty winter birds, what to feed them, how to build feeders, create natural habitats, solve problems, and finally a booklist.

It will be easily seen that the author, Clive Dobson, is an artist as well as a birdwatcher, as there are twenty-two full-page black-and-white drawings of winter visitors, numerous other illustrations throughout, and plans for constructing ground, raised, and window feeders, hoppers, and suet logs. These plans are a main feature of the book, and readers will find them useful.

There may be difficulty with the list of winter birds as both eastern and western birds of Canada are included and occasional as well as regular non-migratory species. The beginner must be careful to read the section on the winter range of each. What easterner would not love to see a Stellar's jay some cold January morning? Alas, it is not likely, but then there was a varied thrush around here a few years ago. A towhee or a tufted titmouse would cause a lot of flurry on the hot-line. It might have been better to separate these occasionals from the non-travelling ones. The house finch, which is making a startling number of appearances in this area, is not included in the list but is mentioned under the look-alike purple finch. And why list herring gulls and not owls? Neither visits feeders, but some very interesting owls are sighted in winter. And why list the cowbird twice, once as brown-headed and once as common?

The writer has some good suggestions but no final answers to problems such as those caused by squirrels or cats. For avoiding window kills, he suggests using paper streamers. He does not discuss the use of nets, which are often advertised for use in the migratory seasons. Anyone interested in feeding birds will enjoy a long look at this book. And if you see a Stellar's jay, call me.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, ON.
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