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Bovey, Robin and Wayne Campbell
Illustrated by Ewa Pluciennik Edmonton, Lone Pine Publishing, 1989. 143pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-919433-73-1. CIP


Bovey, Robin, Wayne Campbell and Bryan Gates
Illustrated by Ewa Pluciennik Edmonton, Lone Pine Publishing, 1989. 143pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-919433-75-8. Distributed by Lone Pine Publishing, #206, 10426 - 81 Avenue, Edmonton, Alta. T6E 1X5. CIP

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Fred Leicester

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

At first glance I must admit I was not overly impressed by these two volumes. Possessing as I do many standard references and guides to birds of B.C. and North America, my immediate reaction was to compare the books under review with the more comprehensive guides. However, this is not at all a fair comparison as these two books are intended for use by backyard bird watchers who would like to know more about the birds they see in their garden, downtown, and in surrounding wetlands, parks and beaches, but without having to plough through masses of extraneous detail. What Bovey et al. have succeeded in doing is presenting in non-technical fashion eighty-five to ninety birds commonly seen at various times of the year in and around the two largest urban areas of B.C.

Each bird is illustrated in full colour, and, in most cases, the depiction accurately records how the bird would look in life. My quibbles with the illustrations lie not so much with the colour, but with form and posture. For example, the varied thrush has the slimmed outline of an oriole rather than the plumper thrush. The red-breasted nuthatch is shown perching, but observers will usually see this bird moving head-first down trunks of trees as it searches for insects; the northern flicker is also shown in an uncharacteristic pose. The starling's bill is too short, and the head-down attitude is unusual when calling or "singing." Likewise, the western tanager's beak is too short and stubby, and the posture is more Audubonesque that realistic; the posture of the American coot is also odd.

The illustrated plumages are those of the species for the time of year when the bird is most likely to be seen. Thus, the common loon is shown in winter plumage only, as it is usually seen from November to April. Where male and female plumages differ this is shown, but confusing juvenile plumages are not.

The text is accurate and informative and contains details regarding plumage, feeding, nesting, and where the bird is most likely to be found. The 13.5 by 21 cm glossy pages look as though they will stand up to a lot of thumbing and the binding seems adequate. Nice features include an informative introduction and a chapter on attracting birds, including how to make nest boxes, bird feeders and bird gardens. A checklist of the birds of Victoria / Vancouver and a reading list round out these books.

As many of the species described may be seen throughout the province, these books are recommended for all B.C. school libraries.

Fred Leicester, Golden, B.C.

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