Looking for some last-minute, bird-related gift ideas for the holiday season? This week’s column is dedicated to some suggestions just perfect for the serious birder or casual bird enthusiast on your Christmas shopping list.
Do you have younger children on your shopping list? I would like to endorse a sweet, good-natured book about a gentle and engaging bird looking to win a contest for best bird song.
“Bird Song,” a beautifully illustrated book aimed at children 6 to 12 (but a good read for adults too), is about a young scissor-tailed flycatcher bird by the name of Knocker. Despite some obstacles, including a lazy eye and a crooked wing that makes flying impossible, Knocker sets forth on his dream to represent Oklahoma in a national bird song contest.
The book is charming, offers a great moral message, and comes illustrated with wonderful drawings. Knocker, the main character, meets an assortment of other feathered folk — cardinals, eagles, turkeys and many more — during his travels. Overall, there’s a lesson here on the value of perseverance, even in the face of disappointments and setbacks, that is conveyed with a light touch.
Stephen Wright, a Facebook friend from England, is the author of this adorable book. I’ve also found it fascinating that a British author has compiled so much accurate information about so many American birds. “Bird Song” is available on Amazon.com for $12.99.
The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society produces an annual calendar featuring some exceptional bird photography from its members. This year’s calendar features full-color photographs of some of the region’s most colorful and engaging birds. The club sells the calendars for $15 each. All proceeds are used to support birding opportunities and bird-related causes. For instance, the club pays for bird seed to stock the feeders at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The club also regularly supports causes that benefit birds.
The calendar also features an informative calendar grid with highlights for major holidays, as well as important bird-related dates. The calendar’s pages feature more than 80 full-color photographs of area birds, including common favorites and some not-so-common visitors. The front cover features a dazzling photograph of a bright yellow prairie warbler perched on a pine branch. If you’re interested in obtaining a calendar, contact firstname.lastname@example.org by email.
Do you have a friend or relative who isn’t able to get out of their home as often as they might like? Why not purchase them a small feeder they can hang near a window to enjoy the daily parade of birds that will flock to an offering of bird seed this winter season? Be sure that your gift of a feeder comes with a bag of sunflower seed so the recipient can immediately begin to enjoy the parade of birds sure to flock to the feeder.
It’s never too early to start thinking about spring and the return of many of our favorite birds. To encourage more birds in our lives, it doesn’t hurt to encourage them by providing man-made nesting and roosting boxes. Many of our favorite birds — Eastern bluebird, tree swallow, Carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch — will raise their young in nesting boxes. With boxes customized to their own particular needs, other birds such as Eastern screech-owl, wood duck and great crested flycatcher, will also make use of bird boxes.Many gardening centers, produce stands, feed stores and other shopping outlets sell bird boxes of various designs, shapes and sizes. If you’re shopping for a bluebird box, be certain that the recipient’s yard is a spacious one. Bluebirds feel more comfortable in open surroundings.
There are lots of other bird-related ideas. The list could include heavy-duty clothing for people who like to get outdoors to look for birds, figurines for the collectors on your list, or even a donation in someone’s name to a birding organizations like the National Audubon Society. I always like to choose a gift that will benefit both the birds and the recipient of the gift.