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    I am so glad I bought this book back when I did, from the Goodwill bookshelves. Since the plandemic began, they have dwindled down to nothing. It is absolutely excellent! Usually books of this nature, with pages and pages of descriptions, and in this case, accompanied by full-page photos of each bird, can become dry reading. Not so here! Stan Tekiela is an excellent photographer, (although not all the photos are by him), along with being a skilled nature "observationist." His comments are interesting throughout the entire book, and I'll get to that in a minute. His Wikipedia page consists of a mere paragraph, but there's lots of other information available about him and his fairly large body of works. This one was first published in 1999. Mine is the second edition, published in 2004.
    Not from Ohio? No problem, because since this was written, and it appears it was one of his first, he has authored numerous other Field Guides, not only about birds from many different states and regions, but other animals and plants, too. His college degree was in Natural History. It paid off!! Here is his Amazon page, and if you are interested in learning to recognize the natural world where you live, I strongly suggest checking him out. We may not have a natural world left for much longer. His "Bird Identification Guides" series alone now covers 36 different states. Here is that page. He also writes guides geared for children. What a great idea!
    If you are from Ohio, here is the page for this exact book . It's about half-way down the page. And one last thing. This book originally came with an audio CD that includes the songs and calls of each bird, and the track is included on each page. I didn't know that when I bought it, or I would have looked through the CDs at Goodwill. I don't think the people at this particular store would have been bright enough to keep them together on the shelf. At first, I was OK with it, but as I read, and learned SO MUCH, I realized I would really like the CD. I have tons of bird sound videos saved on my computer, but you often have to weed through a number of them to find one that's good. Anyways, as I sat down to write this review, I remember I had planned to place an order with Amazon, something I almost never do, but I had some long-standing items on my list. When the accompanying CD was easily found, I decided to splurge. Here's the page for that, and I just noticed that it includes two other books that greatly interest me: Trees of Ohio and Wildflowers of Ohio. You would think that, living out here on the farm all my life, except when I was away at college and grad-school, I would know all this stuff by now. But I sadly don't know.
    Anyways, the CD arrived very quickly, and the quality is exactly the same as the book—lots of interesting information and helpful tips that make it just as enjoyable to listen to as the book is to read. I will include a short commentary after I finish the review of the book.
    As usual, I took pages of notes, not just for this review, but for my reference. I also made a list of all the birds covered, to put marks by those I see and hear, and can easily recognize, and whether I see a male or female. Well, Canada Goose got the first complete check marks. We get "goosed" out here numerous times a day, although I haven't heard them since it has warmed up. And you don't have to be outside, because they loudly announce their presence. I love them!
    But on the downside, Stan's book made me realize how many species I haven't seen, especially this past "winter," which was frighteningly warm and would have been hot except for the constant barrage of toxic chemical cooldown materials for the purpose of creating fake "snow" and flash-freezes, and not just here, but across the whole country. After all these years of activism work with Dane Wigington's group, Geoengineering Watch, we have FINALLY made some headway, with the brave and wise state of Tennessee being the first to sign into law a ban on climate engineering within the state. Several others are heading down the same path, and it couldn't happen soon enough if any life on Earth is to survive much longer. I has certainly taken its toll on our precious feathered friends. Though it improved quite considerably, I had an alarmingly unusual Silent Spring in March and April. Thankfully, here in June, I am enjoying my familiar cacophony.
    Along with noticing birds in the book that I haven't seen in a while, or some even since my childhood, such as the Bobwhite, there are also many regular birds here that were not included in the book.
    Since so many birds are covered in this book, I will only point out some highlights and things I found especially interesting, although I found all of it so. But first, here's a bit about the way the book is laid out, and I would imagine he follows a similar format with all his Field Guides. It is a good one. At the time the book was written there were about 800 bird species found in North America with 404 being spotted over the years in Ohio alone. He's chosen 111 of the most common. He points out that Ohio has two distinctly diverse habitats—the glaciated and the unglaciated. Here where I live in NE Ohio is part of the glaciated region. Glacial wetland. Wet. Wet. Wet. Wetter than it ever, ever was when I was growing up before they began this non-stop climate manipulation. Here is a map of the Glacial Boundary in Ohio 15,000 BP (Before the Present). I live in Portage, which is the rectangular county in yellow next to the row of counties that border Pennsylvania to the east.

Glacial Boundary in Ohio 15,000 BP

    Tekiela then discusses what to notice when observing and identifying birds. It is simple stuff, but things I hadn't consciously been aware of. The other day I saw a bird flying fairly low overhead, and noticed specifically the colors of its tail feathers. I've been observing flight patterns, too. He suggests you first begin with color, and that is how the book is organized, because it is the easiest to notice. Observe the size of the bird, and mentally place it in either the small, medium or large category. Within each color group in the book, the birds are arranged from smallest to largest, and my goodness, we have a surprising size range here in Ohio. He suggests using the Robin for the medium standard, then asking yourself whether the bird you see is smaller or larger than that.
    Noticing the size and shape of the bill is also important. Is it long, short, thick, thin, pointed, blunt, curved or straight? That also gives a clue as to what the bird eats, and can help to identify it. Where is the bird's habitat? Near or in the water, forest floor, up in trees, or soaring? For even more detail, notice the bird's body posture. I am also working on a coloring book of North American Ducks, Geese and Swans, and this book contains lots of helpful photos. Meanwhile, I am learning a great deal. For instance, most people think of "swans" as that graceful creature floating on the water with the S-shaped neck, but actually only the mute swan curves its neck like that! That was new to me. And the last identifying point is to observe the bird's flight pattern.
    Along with all the visible variations are the audible ones. My biggest problem is matching the two. I will hear a bird but not see it, or vice/versa. Years ago, there was this really great website on birds of Northwest Ohio, which included the best recordings I have ever heard. Since most of the birds there were common to Northeast Ohio, I was in the process of learning them pretty well. But then the site just disappeared. And sadly, as mentioned above, so did many of the birds.
    Tekiela also includes a drawing of a generic bird to label the body parts, and again, that was new information for me. Do you know what a flank, mandible, or wing bar is? Neither did I. He then talks about plumage, which in many birds is different in summer than winter, because the guys must be good-looking to attract the gals. The males and females of some species look very different, but with others are nearly identical. If the male is red and the female brown, they will have separate pages in their correct color section. Brown, by the way, contains by far the most species, for Ohio birds at least. If the sexes look different, there will be a small photo of the opposite sex in the corner of the page, with the text including the page numbers for both. Juveniles often look like their mothers in these cases, because they don't yet need the flashy mating plumage. I found myself readily flipping all through the book as I read, so by the time I finished, I had made myself quite aware of the contents.
    He then talks about nests, which he says "are truly an amazing feat of engineering." He covers the main types of nests. Of course, all of these characteristics are included with each bird in the book, Also included is who builds the nest, (male, female, or both), who incubates the eggs, and who feeds the fledglings (baby birds that cannot fly). He supplies a description of the eggs, plus incubation time and the number of days before the little ones can fly. There is an amazingly immense variation between species! He talks about migration, again, much of it very new to me. Each page includes a map of Ohio, colored red, green, blue or yellowish to signify, respectively, whether the bird resides in that part of the state year-round, in summer, in winter, or just during migration. White, of course, means the bird isn't found there at all.
    I learned a lot in the migration section. For instance, I was under the impression that birds fly south to get away from the cold, but the biggest reason is to find food. Complete migrators have a set time and destination, which could be near or far. And sometimes Ohio is the destination of flying south, as with Dark-eyed Juncos, who migrate from the far reaches of Canada. Partial migrators, such as American Goldfinches wait until the food supply runs low, then only fly as far as they need to find food, and it can be east or west as well as south. Irruptive migrators only move every three to five years when times are tough, or overpopulation makes food scarce. I didn't know any of this and found it interesting. There is more in this section, including the migrations patterns and how the birds prepare if they have a long journey ahead.
    The rest of the book is, as mentioned, a page by page description of each bird, beginning with Black. I have pages of notes that I jotted down when I found something particularly interesting or enlightening and often humorous. Plus, as also mentioned, I wanted to make notes that would stick in my mind. Each page has a beautiful photo of the bird on the even-numbered page, with the description on the odd. I decided not to scan any of them because I didn't want to wear out the spine of the book and have it fall apart. The book is small in dimensions and thick for its size, printed on good-quality stiff and glossy paper. So the pictures I include I found online. At the bottom of this review, you will find some particularly helpful Bird Websites that I am using for my coloring book accuracy. Wikipedia also usually has nice photos.
    Let's begin with my namesake, the American Crow. Stan has some nice things to say about it, such as that it is one of the smartest of all birds, very social, and entertains itself by provoking chases with other birds. Crows collect and store bright, shiny objects in their nests. Well, I like bright, shiny objects, too. And I briefly had a pet crow when I was a child. My dad's best friend brought it when he came to visit one day. It would come to me and sit on my shoulder. I've been a crow person for a long time.
    Turkey Vultures are related to storks rather than birds of prey. They have bald heads to keep from picking up disease when they eat carrion, which makes them an important bird because they clean up dead bodies. So do crows. The incubation period for their eggs is 38-41 days, then the little ones are fledglings for another 66-88 days. Wow, that's a long time. We have lots of them here and I love them as I love all my birds. The photo below is from Cornell Lab All About Birds. Their page has some nice videos of them soaring so gracefully.

Turkey Vulture

    The next section is Black-and-White, which includes Bald Eagles. When this book was written, there were only two small areas in which this bird was a full time resident. The one in Eastern Ohio is mostly my county, and the other is along and south of the western half of Lake Erie. They were at one time driven to near extinction from DDT poisoning and illegal killing, but have made a comeback. I can't imagine killing a bird. Bald Eagles return to the same nesting site every year and are thought to mostly mate for life. Their little ones are fledglings for a whopping 75-90 days!
    Blue is the next category. Indigo Buntings and Blue Jays actually do not have blue pigments in their feathers, but appear blue from refracted sunlight. I am not familiar with Indigo Buntings but I have tons of Blue Jays. Incidentally, did you know their crest moves up and down? I wish I had some Barn Swallows because they eat beetles, wasps and flies! Purple Martins, also a type of swallow, however, eat dragonflies. Oh, my! Don't want them around. I love my dragonflies. Below are some baby Barn Swallows from BirdWeb. HA!! Angry Birds.

Baby Barn Swallows

    Next comes the Brown category, by far the largest. Often when the male of a species is brightly colored, the females will be mostly brown. I am noticing that in the ducks I've been coloring.
    As with many other birds, the male House Wren chooses several prospective nesting cavities, setting some small twigs in each. The female then inspects them, and chooses one, then finishes the nest. Both the female and male incubate the eggs and feed the young. Ah, the perfect marriage! The Carolina Wren, a year-round resident for everyone but those of us in the Northern tier of Ohio counties, has some interesting habits. They nest in nesting boxes. Mailboxes, car bumpers or broken taillights. The male sings up to 40 different songs, singing repeatedly before switching to another. The female often joins him in duets. Here's a photo from Audubon. How much more adorable can it get? This page also provides eleven recordings. What a wide range of sounds, and I recognize them, especially "JudyJudyJudy." They are loud and noisy for such a tiny bird!

Carolina Wren

    The American Tree Sparrow has a two-toned beak and grey eyebrows—a very pretty bird, but we only see them in the winter here in Ohio. In summer they return to Canada. And though the Cedar Waxwing is a year-round resident, I'm not sure it is one that I see around here, although with the trees so thick it is much more difficult to keep track of birds now, compared to March and April. I don't recognize their call, either. Anyways, these birds got their name from their wingtips, which look like they were dipped in red wax. Here's another photo from BirdWeb. Strangely, these birds always look like a painting, but this is definitely a photo. I think it's because they are so smooth—you can barely see the feathers and the way their colors blend is very unusual.

Cedar Waxwing

    There are some birds who do things that are not nice! Of the 750 parasitic birds in the world, fortunately we here in Ohio only have one. It is the Brown-headed Cowbird. It lays its eggs in other bird species' nests, often birds that are much smaller and have to raise the invader's young, sometimes to the exclusion of their own. Some birds reject cowbird eggs, but they have been known to lay their eggs in over 200 species of different birds.
    The female Spotted Sandpiper is a liberated woman, and a promiscuous one at that! She mates with multiple males and lays her eggs in up to five different nests, leaving the males to care for them! Well, at least that's one way to keep the species going. And here's the page for the Northern Bobwhite from All About Birds, one of my favorite bird sites. They provide still photos, plus audios and videos, along with lots of tidbits about each bird. Oh, how I miss hearing that call, a very distinct "bobwhite." I grew up with them, then they just disappeared. But according to the map in the book, they still exist in most of Ohio, except for the northern tier of counties, and it looks like they might be in the extreme southeast corner of my county. But alas—a lot has changed since 2004.
    The Killdeer is, I believe, what I see in parking lots—one of their common hangouts, though they are classified as a shorebird. They have a piercing call like gulls and run and bob along on long skinny legs. The first video here is a mommy and baby. The baby tucks up under mommy's wing. Stan describes the first-hatched as "yellow cotton balls on stilts." Well the one in the video has molted, so it isn't yellow any more, but still is a little fluff on stilts. Killdeer are known for their "broken wing impression," to draw intruders away from the nest.
    The American Kestrel is actually a type of falcon and supposedly lives year-round in all of Ohio. Well, I can't believe I never noticed such a stunningly beautiful bird. Unlike hawks which glide through the air, this bird vigorously flaps its wings, which you can see in the video.

American Kestrel

    The male Wood Duck may be perhaps the most beautiful duck species, at least here in Ohio. He is in the Green section, but the female, like many or most ducks, is brown with white markings. Also, as with many types of ducks, the female will often dump her eggs in a neighboring duck's nest which sometimes total 20 or more. After the hatching, however, raising the little ones is easy, as they don't have to be fed in the nest. They are ready to take to the water 24 hours after hatching, and since ducks are a community bird, the ducklings become part of the extended family. Wood Ducks nest in trees in old Woodpecker cavities, and will also use nesting boxes that people provide. Here are more photos, videos and audios.

Male Wood Duck

    The Northern Harrier is a type of hawk that supposedly lives throughout Ohio year round, but when I saw the video of them flying, I was sure I had never seen them. They literally fly close to the ground! Now, as for owls, I have lots of them here and when they get going at night, it starts to sound like a jungle. The Great Horned Owl is able to hear a mouse moving beneath a foot of snow! And they also eat skunks and porcupines! We have lots of Wild Turkeys here, too—the largest game bird in Ohio, but of course I am strictly opposed to killing them. They stand 36-48 inches—the male keeping his "harem" of up to 20 females, each laying 10-12 eggs, with only one brood per year. And yes, they do gobble boisterously. And that ends the Brown section.
    We now enter the Gray section, but many of these birds are made up of several colors. The first entry, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, is not an Ohio resident, but seen during the spring and fall during migration. It is a tiny bird—only 4 inches, which makes it smaller than a wren, but still slightly bigger than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which are in abundance here. The image below of the Kinglet is from the Audubon website. There is also a Golden-crowned variety that is a winter resident throughout Ohio.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

    We have plenty of Nuthatches here—the smaller Red-breasted during the winter, and the White-breasted year-round. Back in the days when I had a house and a porch and we had real winters, they were birds that I looked forward to seeing and hearing. Both species are known for walking down tree trunks head first. Another bird that was one of my porch buddies was the Tufted Titmouse. Their call is easy to recognize—"Peter Peter Peter." And they are also ornery little shits, "notorious for pulling hair from sleeping dogs, cats, and squirrels to line their nests." I had one that used to land on my head when I was out sitting at my porch table.
    As I'm looking at the photos for the Eastern Kingbird, I'm wondering if that is what I've been trying to identify, with that striking white band across their tails. Stan writes "Acting unafraid of other birds and chasing the larger ones, it is perceived as having an attitude." A summer bird throughout all of Ohio, it returns from Central and South America in the spring. Here, again, is a photo from All About Birds.

Eastern Kingbird

    The Gray Catbird is another one of our Ohio summer friends, returning from the southern states. Even if you don't recognize it by sight, you will certainly hear it "mewing" along with prolonged chattering. The Audubon site has six different recordings. Stan writes:

A secretive bird that the Chippewa Indians named Bird That Cries With Grief due to its raspy call. The call sounds like the mewing of a house cat, hence the common name. Frequently mimics other birds, rarely repeating the same phrases. More often heard than seen. Nests in thick shrubs and quickly flies back into shrubs if approached. If a cowbird introduces an egg into a catbird nest, the catbird will quickly break it, then eject it.

    Yes, I mostly hear them in the thick shrubs by the driveway. And speaking of calls and sounds, here's another from Audubon on the Eastern Screech Owl. HA!! Oh, my, remember what I said about it sounding like a jungle when they all get going? If one didn't know what was making these sounds, and that goes for most owls, it would be downright scary. And while we're at it, here's the sounds of the Barred Owl, also from Audubon. Most people are familiar with their "Who Cooks For You?" call. But they can also "hoot it up." Be sure to listen to the pair, the fourth recording on the page. But of course, owls are harmless to humans! It is easy to understand why owls are associated with fantasy. There is something about them that is "other-worldly." I LOVE my owls.
    One of the birds Stan did not include is the Red-shouldered Hawk, and I wonder why. I recognize them by their piercing call, or rather scream. Here's another Audubon," page to listen. He mentioned quite a few other hawks, though. I listened to their calls/screams but didn't recognize any others.
    The last few color categories don't have too many entries. Green comes next. I've already mentioned the Wood Duck and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, so here's a bit about the Green Heron, which is much smaller at 16-22 inches, than the Great Blue Heron at 42-52 inches. Stan says they have been known to place objects like insects on the water to attract fish. Smart bird. Ok, so maybe they don't look that smart. The photo is from All About Birds.

Green Heron

    There were only three birds on the orange category—the American Redstart, Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole, which is a duller, more rusty orange than the former. There are five in the Red category—the House Finch and Purple Finch, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, and Common Merganser (female) which is a type of duck with a skinny bill. CARDINALS ARE NOISY BIRDS. Oh my goodness. A handful of them can drown out everyone else, and I must have several flocks living here! The Audubon page includes TEN different recordings. They, as with Blue Jays, can also raise and lower their crests. Mine have lowered theirs quite a bit this year, and along with them appearing to be smaller than usual, at first I didn't recognize them from a distance. Anyways, below is the female Common Merganser, from All About Birds. There is also a humorous video with Mommy and a whole bunch of little ones—probably babysitting—on a tree trunk in a stream. Plus there's this photo with her and the kids swimming, and I just had to post that one, too. The babies look like they're wearing spectacles!

Common Merganser

Mommy and Babies

    The White category also has five entries, two gulls—the Ring-billed and Herring Gull, Snow Goose, Great Egret and Mute Swan, all found around bodies of water. The last category, yellow, has eleven birds, four of which are females with males of different colors and four are Warblers. The Common Yellowthroat is a type of warbler. The Audubon page includes 11 different recordings. Stan describes their call as "witchity-witchity-witchity-witchity," but I hear it as "whatcha-do-whatcha-do-whatcha-do." I've found that the distance you are from the bird makes a difference in how you hear their call, and that takes me to the end of the book review and leads me into just a bit about the Audio CD. The next to last bird in the book (and CD) is the Evening Grosbeak, which looks different than the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and they sure don't sound the same either. So here's a bit from the CD.

Audio CD

    As expected Stan Tekiela gives us interesting and usable information to help us learn to recognize the sounds of birds and remember them. Plus, as with the book, there were many things I just didn't know. Did you know that the hammering sound a woodpecker makes is part of their call—a means of communication? I have lots of various woodpeckers here, but my favorite is the Northern Flicker. Stan tells us it's the only woodpecker to regularly feed on the ground. They are very beautiful. And noisy, loud screechy and squeaky. Audubon supplies us with sounds for both the red-shafted and the yellow-shafted (which is all I've seen here). It is the Interaction calls that sound like squeaky toys. Below is a female yellow-shafted from All About Birds. Isn't she gorgeous?

Northern Flicker

    Stan gives us mnemonics to help remember calls. We all do that, right? OK, so who says, "Drink-your-TEA"? If you said Eastern Towhee, you would be correct. Who says, "Phoebe. Phoebe?" Duh, that would be an Eastern Phoebe . . . . He points out that some birds have numerous to way numerous different songs and calls (which are not the same thing). Some birds imitate other birds or different creatures and some basically say little to nothing at all, like the Mute Swan, which isn't really mute, it just doesn't usually makes sounds, but it can. He points out the differences in sounds made by two closely related birds which can be great, as with the two Grosbeaks mentioned above.
    Well, I have lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks out here, so I will end this review by telling my story. First let me say that their song is very much like a Robin, but even more delicate and melodious. Stan points out that they add a little "chp" in their songs, which the Robin does not, so that's a way to tell them apart. I have used that advice. Here's the Audubon page where you can listen to their music. Incidentally, they're one of the easiest birds to recognize. The males are beautiful and look like no other bird. There are seven recordings on the page above, and the on one called "Turlee calls," you'll hear kind of a frantic or excited outburst. Keep that in mind as I tell my story. It was in May, 2021, the first spring after Maggie showed up on my porch and joined my family.

Maggie the Killer Cat

    I swear, I have never known a cat that was such a ruthless killer as she. Now after three years, she's calmed down only slightly, and I always try to see what she's caught before she kills it. I just rescued a chipmunk.
    But, anyways, she had this Rose-breasted Grosbeak in her clutches, which fortunately was still alive, but in a state of shock. I brought it into the greenhouse, which has been my refuge in so many ways for the past quarter of a century. He didn't try to get away, and his little foot was all twisted around, so I was upset to think he would be crippled. I just left him alone with the door shut so he could have quiet time.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

    When I went back in to check on him, I was relieved that his little foot had become untwisted and he was walking on it just fine. He was exploring, and, at the time, I was growing really thick, viney pea plants which appealed to him for a nap. When he woke up, he left the greenhouse, as there are many small spaces at ground level that he could easily squeeze through.
    But apparently he, and perhaps an extended family, were nesting in the shrubs near the two Siouxland Cottonwoods near my driveway, and Maggie would often investigate. At which point this little guy would let out an ear-splitting string of squawks and screeches until I came over and removed Maggie from the area. Apparently he assumed I was his guardian. Eventually, Maggie didn't go there. So, as you can see, though I love all my feathered companions, I have a special place in my heart for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Grosbeak, of course, means "large beak," and in their case, huge. It takes up a good amount of their face! I'm sure if he had aimed it at Maggie's eye he would have perhaps discouraged her from messing with him on his own.
    But now, as I remember it, I had a previous experience with this gorgeous bird several years prior. It was when I still had my office opposite my porch. It was mid spring, I believe, and I heard this awful thump, as in, "oh, no, a bird just hit my window." So I went outside, and found the little guy, who was alive but stunned. I set him in a safe place. I had never seen or heard of these birds, so I did some research. He still wasn't moving around much, so I opened the window and began playing a recording of their songs. Pretty soon he perked up and shortly after, flew away.
    I love happy endings, and with that one, I will end this review. As you have noticed, my two favorite Bird Sites are Cornell Lab All About Birds and Audubon. The first is best for videos and still photos, but Audubon has the best recordings, plus lots of other information. BirdWeb also has lots of information and nice photos. I've used some as guides for my coloring. And of course, there's always Wikipedia that usually has an abundance of information and photos. Here's one more—a PDF you can download, especially if you live in Ohio. Common Birds Of Ohio CD Guidebook. And last, here is my Index Page for my reviews of books pertaining to birds.
    Please love your birds and take care of them the best you can. We may not have them—or anything else left on this planet much longer. All these precious, innocent animals are suffering from human ignorance, apathy, greed, and cruelty.

Bird Dings

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