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About the Author
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My earliest memories are of meadowlarks. Their songs rang through my open bedroom window as the morning sky brightened and have become etched in my mind as a coordinate of home. I have met many people since who feel that meadowlark songs are an integral part of living in the West, like the taste of saskatoon berries, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm and the colour of the evening sky above the black mountains in the summer twilight.
Just before I was born, my parents built a house in a new subdivision carved out of wild bunchgrass. For five or six years the meadowlarks came back to the yard they had owned before we did, but eventually the young apple orchard turned the prairie into a deciduous woodland and they had to look elsewhere to nest. Western meadowlarks are birds of grasslands and cannot tolerate forests, though they happily sing from a ponderosa pine growing high and lonesome amid the grass. But for those few years the meadowlarks were a big part of my back yard, the males singing from the freshly-planted apple trees, the young riding on the back of the tractor as it mowed the long grass in midsummer.
Loud and melodic, meadowlark songs sail through the dry air, advertising the presence of a male with a territory. One might think that meadowlarks and other grassland songbirds are at a disadvantage when compared to forest birds in that they don’t have any high trees to sing from to broadcast their songs far and wide. But the wide open spaces are an advantage both for being seen and heardthere are no trees to get in the way. To get a high singing site, many grassland birdsthe sky lark is a famous examplesimply fly up into the air, giving long songs while they are mere specks against the blue sky. Male meadowlarks have a flight song, but it is not as musical (to the human ear) as the song they give while standing on fenceposts or other perches.
Table of ContentsWestern Meadowlark
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Each chapter portrays a different bird species found in Canada, some common and some endangered, with interesting accounts about their behaviour and habitat, why some are endangered, why some have become less abundant or have changed locations over time, and why the author knows and likes these birds. An appealing read for amateur birdwatchers and students of nature and the environment.
This was a wonderful and lovely book, so accessible it felt like listening to a conversation with the author about his experiences with birds and nature.Each chapter is about a different bird, some of their history and nature and his experiences in seeing them, often going back to when he was a child. Each chapter also only has one image of the bird in question, a simple black and white line drawing of each one and while as usual I would have loved color photos in this case the simple images really suited the book, photos would have been a detraction I feel. I also appreciated his ecological message which brought the point of the need for better management of natural resources on our part without ever getting preachy. Physically I also really liked the smaller than average book size, the quality of the paper (at least for this edition) and the simple but elegant cover and overall structure of the book.
This is a delightful book of birding memoirs. For me made all the more enjoyable as many familiar birds are featured. A great introduction to Cannings and I shall be seeking out more of his work.