Books About Birds

Reading recommendations from our own Dr. Alice Mar

One of the best parts about having kids is learning about the things they are interested in. One of my kids really loved birds when he was younger (so much so that he became a vegetarian at age 5 when he realized the Thanksgiving turkey was a bird). I hadn’t been a big birdwatcher before that but it was fun to learn about birds with him. And because birds can be viewed in our own backyards as well as literally everywhere, it was a great way for our whole family to enjoy nature together. As a family we joined in with his interest by participating in Project Feederwatch with Cornell and of course, by reading a lot of books together. Here are some of our favorites for bird lovers or just for book lovers. 

Feathers for Lunch features Lois Ehlert’s trademarks paper collage illustrations. The storyline is simple: a cat gets out and encounters common birds in the backyard. But they all are get away due to the bell on his collar and all he gets are feathers for lunch. The brightly colored realistic illustrations will appeal to young kids as well as the simple and plain text. 

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey is another wonderful classic for the very young. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for the perfect place to raise their ducklings. They find it in the Boston Public Gardens but first have to navigate the city streets with the ducklings (all with rhyming names) in tow. A kind policeman named Michael comes to the rescue. Bonus: if you ever visit Boston you can see the statues of the ducks at the Public Gardens. 

Telephone by Mac Barnett depicts the classic game of telephone being played by birds on a telephone wire as a mother bird tries to get a message to her son about dinner. The birds are all brightly depicted and kids will giggle at the garbled message.

Flight School by Lita Judge tells the story of a penguin with “the soul of an eagle” who just really wants to fly. This is an absolutely adorable book with a great message of perseverance. 

Lita Judge offers up a more factual but equally fun look at books in Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why. This is a nonfiction book suitable for the very young and looks at all the different ways that birds communicate. 

Another great nonfiction look at a specific aspect of birds is Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart that highlights all the different ways that feathers are used by birds (warming, cooling, swimming, digging). 

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward combines short poems describing the myriad of different nests that birds make with beautiful cut-paper collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins. 

Look Up!: Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate is a unique blend of nonfiction book and comic book that inspires kids to learn about birds and birdwatching. It is probably best for older kids to explore on their own as each page is packed with information in a fun and engaging format. 

To continue the birdwatching inspiration, Ruby’s Birds by Mya Thompson shows a young girl who falls in love with birdwatching in an urban setting. The story includes birds hiding on each page that the reader can look for and also information on how to connect with the citizen science projects at the Cornell Lab. The author is a biologist at the Cornell Lab and the creator of educational materials through their organization. 

The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies is a biography of John James Audubon that captures the blend of science and art that inspired Audubon. The illustrations are by the wonderful Melissa Sweet whose trademark mixed media collage/watercolor/pencil style goes perfectly with the text. 

United Tweets of America by Hudson Talbot is a part geography and part science book. Each page highlights a different state bird and gives factual information about the bird as well as fun facts about the state. The illustrations add another level of information but usually in a comical and whimsical way. For example, the Virginia page has eight cardinals of the eight US Presidents born in Virginia.