Hummingbirds. Is there any other species of bird that so immediately conjures up images of shimmery colors and blurry wings?
Author John Shewey provides a rather thorough look at the group of birds known as hummingbirds, as well as looking at the individual groups of hummingbirds.
This is a coffee-table-style book, meaning that it is rich with photos and relatively large text, making it easy to pick up and look at a photo and read just a little bit. It also implies a kind of veneer quality to the material – covering enough to look good without getting too thorough or in-depth. This is probably a pretty apt description, but I also want to be clear … I liked this book. We don’t always need to get deep into the science of ornithology to enjoy a book. Those kinds of books are also available to those who want it.
When you pick up a book about hummingbirds, you want to be able to look at a lot of pictures – to see the colorful variety of the species, and this book definitely provides plenty of remarkable photos.
The book is broken down into six chapters. The first chapter is explores “Hummingbird Trivia: Facts, Fictions & Folklore.” I found some of the trivia interesting, specifically the Aztec interest surrounding the birds. The more I watch and learn about hummingbirds the more I realize how appropriate it was that the Aztecs had a hummingbird war god (‘Huitzilopochtli’). Those little birds are very aggressive!
Perhaps because I already have a hummingbird-friendly yard, I didn’t find the third chapter (‘Planting and Landscaping for Hummingbirds’) as useful. Shewey breaks this down quite a bit, identifying hummingbird-friendly plants, which zones those plants thrive in, and why the birds like these plants specifically (with lots of photos, remember).
The chapter ‘Hummingbirds of the United States’ starts with “The Big Eight” – identifying the most common hummers found in the United States and for each bird Shewey provides: Identification; Status Range; Habitat; Voice; Behaviors; and Similar Species. And with each is also a map of the bird’s range for breeding, migration, winter, and year-round. This section was probably the most helpful to me.
There is also a chapter called ‘Hummingbirds on the Road’ which is more like an appendix as it features a “Viewing Hummingbirds, State by State” guide. I’m not sure how these locations were chosen. In my state, nine parks or refuge centers were listed, but I think many more parks and centers could easily have been included. There is also a listing of hummingbird festivals for the dedicated birder.
The book concludes with a quick look at hummingbirds that don’t make it to the United States. Again, the photos are a delight to look at.
Looking for a good book? The Hummingbird Handbook by John Shewey has a lot of useful information but is primarily a book full of really great photos of an incredible type of bird.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Hummingbird Handbook: Everything You Need to Know about These Fascinating Birds
author: John Shewey
publisher: Timber Press
hardcover, 240 pages