Ned Barraud’s New Zealand’s Backyard Birds is the sister book to his highly successful New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts.
This one is about the birds who live close to our homes and visit our gardens, so these avian visitors are easily spotted. Both our native birds (such as tūī, korimako (bellbird) and pīwakawaka (fantail) and exotic birds who were brought over to New Zealand by the early European settlers, like thrushes, blackbirds, and sparrows, are included.
In the first part he covers key facts about birds including their evolution (they have dinosaur ancestors), how their superlight skeletons and wings enable them to fly, the many ways they use their beaks as tools, and why birds have both fluffy and stiff feathers.
When Springtime comes the males need a mate. There is a lot of competition out there so to impress the females they use various ploys such as strutting about looking tough and bringing gifts of food. Sometimes the loudest singer stands the best chance.
Birds build their nests in diverse ways to keep chicks snug and warm and protect them from predators. He explains the anatomy of a bird’s egg and how chicks manage to break out of their shells.
A full page is devoted to each bird with succinct information about its appearance, what it feeds on and its song. The accompanying realistic illustrations show it flying, nesting, or perching. This allows children to readily identify it.
There are some simple ways to attract more birds into the garden which families can easily do together such as making a feeder, nailing bits of fresh fruit to a fence, or making a sugar solution for the nectar feeders in the winter or early spring when their food is scarce. Ned Barraud tells us how.
Ned Barraud has a light touch with words that appeals to children and his brilliant illustrations add so much to the pleasure of this book. It would be a great way to grow children's knowledge about the avian visitors to their own gardens and make an excellent addition to every family bookshelf.
Reviewer: Lyn Potter
Potton & Burton