Monday 21 August 2017

Beak and you shall find... two bird books

Joe Kennedy

Ireland's Garden Birds

Oran O'Sullivan and Jim Wilson

Collins Press (€16.99)

Birds of Ireland: Facts, folklore and history

Glynn Anderson

Collins Press (€27.95)

Two sparkling Irish bird books are ideal gifts for birders of all seasons. Production, information and illustrations are all superb. The first is from Oran O'Sullivan and Jim Wilson of BirdWatch Ireland, familiar names to many though not heard (very often) on the radio. Aside from brilliant identification and detailed facts, this book has unexpected bonuses in sections on gardening (for birds and wildlife) -- the enticing trees, shrubs and plants -- pond life, year-round feeding and planning . . . and composting. To paraphrase an advertising slogan: this book is what it says in the sub-title -- How to identify, attract and garden for birds. A winner.

Glynn Anderson's facts, folklore and history in his Birds of Ireland developed, he says, from his desire to know more about men's perception of an interaction with birds in the realm of custom and belief, folklore, myths and legends, place names, the weather and even culinary traditions.

As far as I am aware no such volume has been published about Irish birds specifically. This is a hard-backed, lavishly illustrated book that is the result of considerable research.

The folklore is a delight: If a girl sees a sparrow first on St Valentine's Day she will marry a poor man -- but they'll be happy. If she sees a goldfinch he'll be a millionaire! But there's more serious stuff, of course.

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