BIRD WATCH: Bald eagle sighting brings book memories

THERE IS NO ignoring a bald eagle flying through the front yard.

Even more attention-getting is two eagles heading for the neighbor’s tall fir tree.

In recent years, this has happened on numerous occasions.

It’s always eye-catching — from inside the house and especially when you are in the garden.

They’re huge birds.

It isn’t just the size of their wing spread (7 to 8 feet). They are heavy-bodied birds with broad wings.

When two eagles flew low over the house and yard, gull escort in attendance, someone came to mind.

John K. Terres is probably my favorite author when it comes to birds.

I have learned more from reading his works than many others.

Roger Tory Peterson field guides set the standard for bird identification.

Terres’ writings are about the birds and their lives.

When this column came into existence, it was always Terres that I used for research. He was the expert when it came to attracting and enjoying birds.

He shared a wealth of information with readers.

“Songbirds in your Garden,” remains a favorite.

He had so much good information to share.

He wrote stories about the birds he had observed and studied for many years.

He knew firsthand what he was writing about.

I recently looked at the inside of the book’s cover.

The teaser on it tempted me to once again search its pages.

“In Addition to useful information, ‘Songbirds in Your Garden,’ is filled with anecdotes and stories about bird life: the young robin that ate 14 feet of worms; the titmouse that had a passion for piecrust; the hummingbird that was clocked doing 60 miles an hour.”

How can you resist opening a book that promises all that?

Two large bald eagles flying overhead brought Terres to mind because of another book he created.

It’s a compilation of the works of many others involved in the lives of birds. It’s put together by a person who was the editor of Audubon Magazine for 12 years.

It took him close to 20 years to make his dream of, “The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds,” a reality.

During that time he was encouraged by his longtime friend, Peterson.

Once the book was a reality in 1980, Peterson said it never left its place on his desk.

Not only is this book the finest, most informative book on all of North America’s birds, it is truly a tome.

There are more than 1,000 pages containing 1 million words.

It is illustrated with 875 full color photographs and 800 black and white drawings.

It weighs almost 10 pounds and doesn’t sit on my desk.

It has its own stand where there is good light.

The illustration on the cover is the head and shoulders of the symbol of this country, a bald eagle.

The fierce eyes and open, calling mouth illustrate how intimidating and impressive this bird appears.

These two books have been treasured reference books for years and I was pleasantly surprised to see how readily available they still are — and how inexpensive.

I was positive that “Songbirds in Your Garden” would be out of print. (It was published in 1959).

I found it to be available on Amazon and for very little money.

Also available and at a reasonable price is the “Encyclopedia of North American birds.”

Whether it is a fierce-looking bald eagle that catches your eye one morning or a flock of tiny bushtits mobbing the feeders, rain or no rain, these two books make great companions for a day when getting outdoors isn’t at all tempting.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: joanpcarson

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