Enter for your chance to win a copy of the beautiful Birds of Canada coffee table book

DK Books Canada offered me the opportunity to speak with Prof. David M. Bird, the consultant editor of Birds of Canada and an emeritus professor of wildlife biology and Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He now calls Vancouver Island home.

This is a new feature for Book Time. Once a month, I will ask an author a five, seven or nine questions. Enjoy.

How old were you when you first started to be interested in birds and what did you do to embrace this love?

Prof. David M. Bird, Birds of Canada consultant editor ($45, DK Books, dk.com) said when was trying to decide his university path he debated between wildlife, as he always had an interest in hunting and fishing and falconry, and becoming a famous race car driver. He opted for engineering where he could design “hot cars”.

He lasted a month at the University of Waterloo before switching to the fish and wildlife program at the University of Guelph.

What is your favourite bird in Canada? Why?

The White gyrfalcon.

Bird said he has always loved the falcon and fell in love with the white gyrfalcon during his first wildlife job in 1973 when he studied a pair. At the time, he felt birds of prey were the only birds that mattered and every other species was simply food for birds of prey.

Then one day he watched the mating display of an Anna’s hummingbird.

“I was so impressed with this bird…I didn’t want to be a raptor bigot any more.”

What is your least favourite bird in Canada? Why?

David said he loves all bird species. However, he said if you ask most Canadians, the cormorant is likely the least popular bird as it is known for destroying everything in its path. Bird, however, thinks it is a fascinating creature particularly after watching it drain its feathers. He also suggested people who dislike starlings should take a look at a murmuring of starlings and be prepared to be amazed.

“Crows, ravens, magpies, in my opinion, are the smartest birds on the planet.”

Why did you fight to make the Canada Jay as this country’s national bird

“Because they are found in every province and territory in Canada, plus they don’t migrate south; they stay here in the winter. They use sticky saliva to store food above the snow…They are really friendly without being enticed by food. Tough, Friendly and wise….three great attributes for Canadians…By picking the Canada Jay (as Canada’s national bird), it will force people to get off their duffs and go out into our national and provincial parks and meet (the birds)” and fight to protect its homes.

What is the most rare bird you have seen in Canada?

Eskimo curlew.

Bird believes this bird is extinct. With the million of bird watchers in Canada and the United States and with the social media, there would have been sightings if this creature still existed. He also said the ivory-billed woodpecker is extinct.

Therefore, the rarest bird he has seen is the redwing. The white-faced ibis now calls Canada home.

What is great about bird watching?

There are 914 species of birds in North America. Bird watching is accessible, Bird said.

“All you need is a pair of binoculars and a list of usual suspects. Then you can go home and look up the birds in the Birds of Canada Second edition.

“It (bird watching) becomes a bit of a game for people. People collect birds like they do baseball cards.”

Why should people care about birds?

“Basically birds are an indicator of health for our ecosystem. If birds aren’t doing well, Earth is not doing well…If (something) is not fit for birds, it’s also not fit for humans.”

What was the best part about working on this book?

“Working with Barbara Campbell (managing editor of DK Books). It was a pleasure to work with the friendly, helpful people at DK Books.”

Bird, a film lover, said he was “thrilled” to learn the Birds of Canada book was put into swag bags for Toronto International Film Festival-goers who stayed at the Thompson Hotel, so celebrities such as Rachel Weisz and Blake Lively may be reading his book.

What do you hope people learn by reading this book?

“I hope people read the book and it helps them appreciate the beauty and variety of birds.”

Visit www.askprofessorbird.com for more information about Bird.

Review

I am a bird fan. I might even go as far as calling myself a bird watcher, if that means sticking my head out the window to watch the graceful flight of the red-tailed hawk or watch as a osprey flies overhead with a fish still wiggling in its talons. I have binoculars in my car and I have been known to sit outside my house and patiently wait – successfully I might add – while the chickadees or nuthatches eat out of my hand.

My parents, on the other hand, truly are bird watchers. They attend events, they participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count and they know the type of bird based on the sounds they make and can be found debating whether it’s – for example – a house wren or a winter wren. And don’t ever call a gull a seagull.

The Birds of Canada, Second edition, which was released in September is an absolutely beautiful book perfect for any type of bird watcher.

There are lots of pictures of each bird, including what it looks like in-flight. Body parts are labeled, information is clear with a section on voice, nesting and feeding. I love the map with the range of the bird as well as the box of similar species. There are a variety of birds from owls to hummingbirds, shorebirds and finches.

A copy of this book was provided by DK Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.

CONTEST

Would you like to win a copy of Birds of Canada?

DK Books is offering a copy of this book to one Canadian resident 18 and older, excluding residents of Quebec. To enter for your chance to win a copy of Birds of Canada book, leave a comment below. The contest runs until Sunday, Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time Zone). I will contact the winner, who has 48 hours to respond via email to contestsforbooktime@gmail.com with a Canadian mailing address. The winner’s name and mailing address will be forwarded to DK Books and Book Time is no longer responsible for the prize. The prize is valued at $45.

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Prize: DK Books Birds of Canada book valued at $45.

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