Book Review
    January 2009

Backyard Birds of Utah

Backyard Birds of Utah (How to Identify and Attract the Top 25 Birds), by Bill Fenimore, Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Layton, Utah, 96 pages, ISBN 13:978-1-4236-035305, 5.25 x 7 inches, $9.95.


     Bill Fenimore is the Utah Audubon Society Policy Advocate and owner of the Wild Bird Center franchise in Layton, Utah.  Although born and raised in Pennsylvania, he has lived and birded many years in Utah.  The Backyard Birds of Utah is actually the first of potentially 50 books in a series of the backyard birds of the entire United States.  


     The series is mainly designed as a beginner level guide (for all ages) featuring the most likely 25 birds to be seen in a personís backyard in each of the states.  Some might quibble with what are the top 25 birds to be expected in a personís backyard through any year.  Most of the birds would be seen in a yearís time, although a Cooperís Hawk and a Brown-headed Cowbird probably would elude many beginning birders possibly for several years.  In many yards, a winter Yellow-rumped Warbler (which is not listed) is more likely to be seen than a White-crowned Sparrow or Ruby-crowned Kinglet (which are mentioned).


     Accompanying a full-page photo of each bird are identification descriptive and behavior notes, song, habitat, nesting, range, and size of the bird information.  At the bottom of each page is a row of bird silhouettes by size for a comparison with other species.  Also included are ways to attract each species, by food and nesting preferences.  Many of the photos of the Utah book are by several notable Utah photographers; other photographersí names I donít recognize; and some have been commercially purchased from the Visual Resources for Ornithology (VIREO) collection.  


     The range maps are not unique to each state but rather are generalized maps of North America and Mexico with the breeding and winter ranges colored in.  Presumably the same map would be used for the same bird regardless of what state it is listed in.  Also, presumably, the same photographs would be found in other books in the series in which the same birds are depicted.  The birds are depicted in order of size, from Hummingbirds, then Chickadee, up to Magpie, and Cooperís Hawk, rather than in alphabetical or taxonomic order.


     After the species identification pages, there is a section on Feeding preferences, Protecting birds from cats, Importance of water, Types of vegetation preferences, Fun bird projects, and Citizen Science programs.


     At present (January 2009), the books have been published for Utah, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.  North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee are the next to come out.

Steve Carr, UOS President


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