Bird Books

Here are some recommendations for non-ID bird books for adults and for kids. Just click the embedded link for more information about the book. Remarks accompanying each book’s listing are from the websites each book is linked to.

Also, if you have a favorite book relating to birds that isn't listed here, please let us know and we will add it. Just send us an email at

WHAT THE ROBIN KNOWS, How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World, by Jon Young. This is a sophisticated guide for amateur bird watchers and a door-opener for newbies.

THE GENIUS OF BIRDS, by Jennifer Ackerman. Science writer Ackerman looks at the new science surrounding avian intelligence. Fans of birds in all their diversity will want to read this one.

THE MIND OF A RAVEN, Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-birds, by Bernd Heinrich. What makes ravens tick, or, if you prefer, quork? What fires their love of baubles, their delight in tomfoolery? Why have so many cultures portrayed the birds as creators and destroyers, prophets and clowns and tricksters? Are they sentient? Do they scheme? To what use do they put that sizable brain? Heinrich has shared a lot of forest time with ravens over the years, trying to gain perspective on these questions.

THE VERB ‘TO BIRD’, The Sightings of an Average Birder, by Peter Cashwell. "Reading this book was the next best thing to wandering in the woods with Peter Cashwell hoping to add a rufous-capped warbler to my life list. No, it was better—I could laugh out loud in delight as I turned the pages without fear of scaring the birds."—Katharine Weber, author of The Music Lesson

BIRD COUNT, by Susan Edwards Richmond ; illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. Age ranges: 5–9. A young citizen scientist helps count birds for the Christmas Bird Count, a hemisphere-wide event run by the National Audubon Society.

BRINGING BACK THE BIRDS, Exploring Migration and Preserving Birdscapes throughout the Americas, by American Bird Conservancy, photographed by Owen Deutsch.

BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD, by Ashley Bryan, illustrated by Ashley Bryan. Blackbird shares his gifts with the birds of Africa in this colorful read-aloud picture book. Age ranges: 4–7. Blackbird talks of the difference a little black can make, but he also emphasizes that external appearances do not reflect the inner self. Which of the two is more important is never clarified. Still, the rolling language and appealing illustrations make this a must.

BIRD SENSE, What It's Like to Be a Bird, by Tim Birkhead. One thing that Birkhead explains in Bird Sense is that some birds “tend to use their right eye for close-up activities like feeding and the left eye for more distant activities such as scanning for predators.” An entertaining book guaranteed to bring pleasure to bird-watchers that will also fascinate students contemplating a career in ecology.

THE FEATHER THIEF, Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson. A captivating tale of beautiful, rare, priceless, and stolen feathers.

WESLEY THE OWL, The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl, by Stacey O'Brien. When biologist Stacey O'Brien first met a four-day-old baby barn owl with nerve damage in one wing, she knew he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild, so gave him a permanent home living with her. This is the funny, poignant story of their two decades together.

Happy birding––and happy bird book reading!