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Mansell, William C.

Kitchener (Ont.), McBain Publications, c1985. 208pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-920469-02-7. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Elinor Kelly

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

This welcome pocket-sized book could be described as a chatty checklist. The cottage country of the title refers to the area of Algonquin Park, Parry Sound, and Muskoka and Haliburton districts of the province of Ontario. Besides cottages, this area is home to a myriad of birds, and breeding centre for most of eastern Canada's softbills.

Mansell is a retired accountant, well known for his bird columns in the Globe and Mail and for other writings and scientific ornithological work. He is a cottage owner and field worker of many years standing in the area he is describing. He intends his book to be used with the usual field guides. Three hundred and ten species are listed and there are a dozen or so black-and-white drawings of birds. Each chapter begins with a list of the species arranged under headings indicating frequency of sightings, from abundant, to common, to rare, to accidental. Mansell gives descriptions of calls or songs where helpful, and comments on habitats and field marks.

The book ends with a useful list of migration dates. There is no index. One special feature is the author's personal or anecdotal experience of bird watching, which makes entertaining reading.

This book should be on every window-sill, or in every knapsack in cottage country, wherever there are bird watchers. It is just as useful in areas adjacent to those described, since birds know no political boundaries. It would be a good hostess present and great for settling arguments over identification.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, Ont.
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