Sunday, January 31, 2010

Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin by Irene Kelly

Deep in winter, there are many empty nests in our trees. Most that we see wedged into bare branches of our neighborhood trees are circular structures of twigs, what many people think of first when thinking of bird nests. We don't often consider how large and small birds in countries around the world sometimes need something different. In her colorful and entertaining book aimed at younger readers, Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin, author and illustrator Irene Kelly draws our attention to the diverse world of nests and the birds that make them.

Though I have spent years watching nature documentaries on public television, I discovered new information about bird behaviors in this book aimed at young naturalists. I never knew the advantage of pointed eggs; Kelly says that they will not roll away like rounder eggs, which is important to birds who lay their eggs on sheer cliffs. I also never knew about Gila woodpeckers willingly sharing their saguaros with elf owls and western blind snakes; the three species benefit from a clever security arrangement. Jacanas float nests on lakes while horned coots build islands for their nests. Kelly tells about forty unique nesting habits, featuring birds from every continent. She also suggests ways to attract birds to your yard by providing nesting materials.

Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin is just the kind of book that children who like nature study and big people who still think like kids will enjoy.

Kelly, Irene. Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin. Holiday House, 2009. ISBN 9780823421022

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