WORDS ON BIRDS
Holiday Gift Suggestions for Bird Lovers
By Steve Grinley
are in the midst of the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
Between Black (bird) Friday, Small Business Saturday (ahem), and
Cyber Monday, one can shop ‘til they drop during this official start
to the holiday shopping season. As I do every year around this time,
I will share with you, once again, some of my holiday gift
suggestions for the bird enthusiasts on your holiday shopping list.
With snowy owls and bald eagles
being seen recently, this might be a good year to give the gift of
better sight - that is, though binoculars or a spotting scope.
Optics have continually improved over the years such that you don't
have to spend a lot of money for clear and close-up views of a snowy
owl in the marshes of Plum Island, or an eagle soaring over the
river. The better the optics, the better the view, but good quality
binoculars and scopes are within most people's budgets today.
A general field guide is always a good
gift to help identify the birds that are seen. Peterson, Sibley, and
National Geographic are the best all-around guides. These guides all
cover North America but each also have a smaller Eastern or Western
field guides that is best if the recipient is a beginner or doesn’t
travel much. If photographs are preferred, then the Stokes Field
Guide to Birds is the way to go. Stokes also have a small, pocket
size, beginner guide that includes most of the common birds, which
is good for beginners.
many other excellent books on birds and birding, including several
from local authors. Local birder, Doug Chickering’s Reflections on a
Golden-winged Warbler is a collection of short stories which draw
you into the local birding experience. Neil Hayward of Cambridge
wrote about his North American Big Year in Lost Among the Birds and
intimately shares with readers the highs and lows of his quest. For
children, Buzz, Ruby and Their Chicks is a true story about a pair
of Red-Tailed Hawks that nested on an office building near Fresh
Pond in Cambridge. Authors Wendy Drexler and Joan Fleiss Kaplan even
include some discussion questions for children at the end of the
The most amazing (in my
opinion) beginner’s guide to birding is Look-Up, Bird-Watching in
Your Own Backyard by local author Annette LeBlanc Cate. Written in
“cartoon” fashion and geared for 8 to 13 year-olds, it is a fun way
to learn all about birds and bird watching by all ages, while being
someone learn bird songs, there are many bird song CD’s and books
with CD’s to choose from. Simple is the newly re-released Backyard
Birdsong Guide that has seventy-five Eastern (or Western) birds
illustrated with detailed descriptions, You can then dial-in the
page number on the “player” and push the button to hear the song!
There is also a new children’s Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs
that is a board book with illustrations, brief descriptions and
facts on twelve common birds and a child can play the song with just
a push of the button.
children, the new Identiflyer Lyric is a portable player with song
cards that identifies the more common birds with the push of a
button. In one mode it plays just the song to test you. In the other
mode, it plays the song, tells you its name, and gives you a phrase
or description to help you remember the song or call. It is a great
way to learn!
A bird feeder makes a
great gift and can provide hours of entertainment for young and old
alike. There are many types of feeders in all shapes and sizes. A
simple tube feeder that holds sunflower or mixed seed is the most
versatile. A tray can be added for cardinals or larger birds and the
newest tube feeders have removable bases for easy cleaning. New
hopper-type feeders and trays now come in recycled materials that
are eco-friendly and outlast wood. For more specific feeding, a
thistle feeder or suet feeder can add diversity to the birds to many
If squirrels are a problem,
the Squirrel Buster line of feeders is still the best because they
really work to keep squirrels at bay! Though the Squirrel Buster
Plus is still the most popular because of its capacity and its
effectiveness, Squirrel Buster has several smaller but equally
effective versions for every budget. They even have a peanut feeder
and thistle feeder available.
we are months away from spring, a bird house is a welcome gift any
time of year. They require little maintenance, and they come large
or small, fancy (hand-painted, some with copper roofs!) or plain.
Houses can be put up in winter as the birds will use houses to roost
at night to get out of the elements. There are also specific winter
roost houses that have the entrance hold near the bottom to retain
heat and multiple perches inside for the birds to huddle together!
For those who already have enough
feeders and houses (if that is possible), perhaps a heated bird bath
or a heater/deicer for an existing bird bath might make a welcome
gift. Most are thermostatically controlled and run on pennies a day.
Birds welcome open water, especially when natural fresh water
sources are frozen.
For the nature
lover that doesn’t have a yard for a feeder, house or bird bath,
there are bird motifs on all kinds of gift items. From jewelry,
clocks and thermometers, t-shirts, notepads, pot holders and hand
towels, to holiday ornaments and 2017 calendars, there is sure to be
one with bird image someone will enjoy. One of my favorites is the
mugs that reveal different bird’s colorful plumage when hot liquids
A gift membership to the
Essex County Greenbelt or to Mass Audubon also makes a special gift.
Our own Joppa Flats Audubon Center has so many excellent programs
that you could give as a gift to anyone who likes nature. Especially
popular are the Wednesday morning and Saturday morning bird walks,
tickets for which can be purchased in advance - they make great
Any gift that
helps someone enjoy birds and nature is one that will surely be
appreciated this holiday season and, likely, for years to come.
Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
192C State Street
Newburyport, MA 01950
years of service to the birding community!
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