How to Look at a Bird

Open Your Eyes to the Joy of Watching and Knowing Birds

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Pub Date 6 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 12 Feb 2024
Storey Publishing, Storey Publishing, LLC

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Bestselling author and acclaimed nature illustrator Clare Walker Leslie invites beginning birdwatchers to hone their observational skills with this easy-to-use visual guide.

Using her signature nature journal illustrations, Leslie shows readers the key clues to look for, from the shape of the beak or talons to distinctive feather colorings, flight patterns, and behavioral traits. She offers simple prompts that encourage readers to embrace curiosity and take a closer look: Where are you? What season is it? How is that bird moving or eating? With an emphasis on the birds that are most likely to be seen at a feeder, in a city park, or at a nature preserve, How to Look at a Bird makes bird watching, identification, and appreciation accessible to everyone, no matter where they live.

Bestselling author and acclaimed nature illustrator Clare Walker Leslie invites beginning birdwatchers to hone their observational skills with this easy-to-use visual guide.

Using her signature...

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ISBN 9781635866490
PRICE US$18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 28 members

Featured Reviews

What a delight reading this book was! It was a true feast for the eyes with utterly gorgeous illustrations that balanced rustic yet beautifully executed and really made reading it effortless. They’re the sort of drawings I’d love to have framed and put up on my wall! Every single one of them would have been worthy of your wall space and accompanied with short and succinct little pointers about all aspects of birding.

I’m fairly early on in my bird watching hobby and have loved gathering as much information as I can to arm me for future bird watching sessions, so books like these are invaluable. And it helped that this one wa so effortless and fun to read.

It covers a lot, from bird shapes, sounds, behaviour, nests and how to feed them in your garden. I’m from the U.K. and as this book mentioned American birds, the IDing of these species wouldn’t always be applicable to me but it didn’t take any enjoyment out of reading this book. I enjoyed learning about the beautiful range of birds found in America and I could still take away a lot of the information in regards to how to streamline your bird spotting!

It’s a perfect book to have as companion on your shelf, especially if you’re new to starting out. Although I’d argue any well seasoned birder would also get as much enjoyment out of this as anyone else for its straight to the point info and really lovely sketches.

I also loved that near the end of the book it contained pointers about how to do your own bird drawings as well as a handy little space to record your own bird spots. A great well rounded little book!

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This is a lovely addition to any good nature collection, or indeed any good art/creativity collection. I appreciated the very simple suggestions to help anybody just observe birds, and while I wasn't expecting the "how to draw" section it was very approachable and really made this non-artist think.

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I love Birds, and I have been reading about, and watching shows about them for about six months. I own a couple of birder indexes/guides, but they always seemed more intimidating than helpful, with very little advice for actually going out into the field and, well, looking at the birds.

So when I saw this book on Net Galley (where I obtained it, for free and read it to review it), I snapped it up.

It was easy to read, the pictures were perfect, and approachable, and what’s more it gave me the confidence that I could be a birder. By starting in my own yard. I devoured this title in a single night, Laying in bed, reading about the different birds in our shared ecological region (North East) and marveling at the more distant lands the author went to and birded.

I am going on vacation camping in two days, and believe me, I will take all the knowledge I gleaned from this title and apply it to my trip.

I highly recommend this work for anyone who is new to birdwatching/listening or who wants to see how to keep a bird journal in an easy to digest and practical manner.

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Firstthings first, this book was a delight and the artwork stunning.
All the watercolour sketches were so vivid and colourful and made this truly a pelasure to read!

"Birds are found across the world, on every continent, in all kinds of habitats, and from the wildest places to the smallest backyard. No matter where you live, there are birds to enjoy just out your window or as you go about your day."

Are you a bird novice or an ornithological wizard? Either way this book has something for you. It's a wonderful source of information on birds and how to go about taking the time to look at them.
"You don't need a science background, expensive equipment, or even loads of time to enjoy watching birds - just lots of curiousity."
What was nice was seeing the artwork from throughout the author's life of bird watching, so if you feel like your drawing skills aren't enough and don't want to try sketching birds as you look at them, the coloured swirl scribbles or circle bodies with triangle wings will put you more at least. And the drawing tips at the end certainly will help.

The guide gives very simple yet useful tips on bird ID'ing, or how to get your eye in on the matter. Offering knowledge about bird size and speed and simple observable traits like that.
The book is littered with facts and advice, the simplest and best being to simply...look up.

The book does well to dive into greater detail about things like bird anatomy, colourations, differencs in sex and age of birds, but never in a way that feels overwhelming. I think the abundance of drawings really aid with this.

While the book is focused on North American birds primarily, the knowledge and tips in contains translates so easily regardless of where you are. Especially the parts about feeding and bathing and how to best set up spots for birds in your garden.

So, if you want to get looking at birds then grab this book, grab a knowledgable friend, and get looking.
And don't be afraid to ask for help, as the author says, no bird question is dumb.

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How to Look at a Bird is the perfect book for those looking to start birdwatching. It gives you a step-by-step guide on how to identify birds, starting small and getting more complex. It even includes a chapter on how to draw field drawings of birds and a table for organizing your birdwatching findings! I love the water colors and field drawings included throughout the book. The field drawings are simple and make even a novice feel like they can do it too. The watercolors bring beauty and life to the many birds Clare includes includes in this book. The birds Clare includes are a range of many common birds to a few less common birds, depending on your location. A must-read for any novice birdwatcher or someone looking to start birdwatching.

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This is a delightful little book about birds, birding, and drawing birds. The information is concise but thorough and the drawings are really lovely. The author lives in the eastern US, so the birds described focus on that area, but the tips for identification are useful to anyone who loves watching and listening to birds by their backyard feeder or in the wild. I especially liked the pages that described how to draw birds. I recommend this to anyone who loves birds!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

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Clare Walker Leslie is both an author and illustrator. In this little book, she encourages beginners at birdwatching to take the first step in taking this hobby into next level. It doesn't require one to be scientist or naturalist. First the joy of watching birds around where we live, be it in the country, suburban, or even in a busy big city like where I live. From there, you'll get curious to what bird that is, what they are doing, why they're doing it, and so on. That curiosity will make one a better observer.

This book hooked me from the first because apparently Clare has been staying at an apartment building, as I do. She shares how she attracted birds by hanging some feeders on the balcony. It made me realize that one CAN do birdwatching without having to travel in the country or visiting a forest. If you imagine this book would be boring and full of technicality or specifications of birds, you were wrong. It feels more like talking with a longtime birdwatcher who's glad to tell you of her love of birds and birdwatching. She wasn't an expert too when she began, but when you do what you love, I believe you'll find ways to learn more. You'll search for it on the internet, you'll find people with the same hobby to talk too, and so on. The possibility would be endless. What you need is to take the first step. And that's what this book will inspire you without being condescending.

Another pleasant part of this book is the sketches and colorful illustrations of birds and birdwatching. My favorite is the feeder hung on her apartment balcony – maybe because I can relate to it, living in an apartment myself. Clare even shares the step-by-step of sketching a bird. You needn't be good at drawing, by the way. There's this technique which she called blind contouring – doing rough-sketch while focusing on the object, without looking at what you’re doing – which seems quite doable. I can't wait to try myself!

Do you love birds, but find the word "birdwatching" intimidating? Read this book, and you'll see that it's actually not that scary! Clare described in details several species of birds (with illustrations) which you'll find in some parts of the world (mainly the US), but like she said in this book, wherever you live, there are always birds around you. Moreover, you’ll learn some interesting things about these birds, though you might perhaps never see them. If you love nature and birds, you'll find this book a helpful guidance.

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This book is without a doubt a beginner friendly book on how to begin watching birds. The text is straightforward and accessible to a variety of readers. Even my 3 year old was interested in parts of this book! The illustrations and diagrams are engaging and they encouraged me to look at birds in new ways. I've always wanted to try nature journaling and this provides a great example and tips. I will definitely be reading more of Claire Walker Leslie's books on nature journaling and drawing in the future.

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"How to Look at a Bird" is a user-friendly visual guide adorned with captivating illustrations. This book provides a wealth of information on bird shapes, sounds, behaviours, nesting habits, and garden feeding. The only drawback for me is its focus on American birds, leaving a desire for a UK-specific version that showcases our native bird species. Nevertheless, this is a stunning educational book. I am yet to start bird watching but intend to begin doing so as part of my mindfulness journey, this book serves as an excellent starting point, offering a valuable foundation for bird watching.

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I've wanted to host a nature club online for kids, and it's been hard to find books they could use to complete actual assignments. This book makes it easy. Now to find a few more!

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Ever wondered what bird is flying above? Been tempted to get outside more, but didn't know quite how to break into birding? Filled with practical advice and charming illustrations, this book is a must have for any new birdwatcher. Covering topics from which binoculars to buy to how to differentiate between birds, it is evident how much thought and care is packed into this small book. Highly recommended.

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This is a great book that makes bird watching accessible to all.

Birds are all around us and the author encourages us to observe and pay attention regardless of whether you love with very little greenery around you.

She breaks down all the interesting facts and provides beautiful drawings that also sparked an interest in my younger children.

Although we don't see many of the birds in the book, it's inspired us to learn more about the birds in our garden.

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If you have ever had any inclination to become a birder, even a dabbler in the birding world, this book is for you. A down-to-earth approach, not only to how to outfit yourself to maximize your birding endeavors, but also to how to think about, look at, and live around birds. The author talks you through general pointers and bird information, but they also give you a glimpse into a very personal side of their own birding journey. Of particular pleasure to me was how they cataloged their sightings: sometimes these were full descriptions, with names and technical specifics, but often they were sketches and impressions, more like poetry than categorization.

Ultimately, this book won't make you into a bird aficionado. It won't teach you every migratory pattern and birdcall. It probably won't even help you all that much when it comes to figuring out which bird you happen to be looking at or hearing at any given time. What it will do, though, is perhaps more valuable. It will encourage you to appreciate the avian life in your everyday surroundings in a different and more intimate way. It will help you articulate what you want to take away from your experiences with birds and assist you in finding the tools to achieve that experience. Best of all, it will cast birding in a light that makes it accessible, something everyone can do: a simple pleasure that doesn't require expensive trappings or the privilege of large amounts of free time and education. All you need is interest and a bird or two.

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Like many others, I have become more and more interested in birds the older I get. Combine that with being home during the pandemic, and that interest grew into a slight obsession. That’s why this book caught my eye.

This is a wonderful introduction to bird watching for beginners. A combination of memoir and handbook, with beautiful sketches and paintings, there is much to inspire anyone who has begun to notice the world of our avian companions.

The basics of bird watching are explained, along with general information about birds, fun trivia and fascinating details. This book is especially interesting for anyone wishing to sketch, draw or paint birds, and Clare Walker Leslie includes a section on how to begin. Almost every page in this lovely book includes art, from basic sketches to more refined paintings. It is a treasure trove of tips and advice on how to approach and befriend our feathered friends. Thank you NetGalley and Knopf for letting me read this in exchange for an honest opinion.

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Loved this. There's a comfortable feeling to it, if that makes sense. Almost as if the author is huddled up near you chatting softly as you scan the surroundings for birds. She offers easy to grasp hints on how not just to find and identify birds, but how to sketch them, too. I'm no true birder but have noticed that the more serious among them keep detailed records and sketches of what birds they've spied, so that made sense. While most bird books offer pictures/photos, the ones she offers are genuinely quick sketches, meant to capture basic traits as well as the moment. In other words, something most of us can grasp and utilize on whatever level we are. She calls it bird contouring, btw.

Along the way, you'll learn how to attract birds to your own little piece of the world. I grinned when she noted that, yes, that may mean squirrels, too, as my own bird feeder was like a magnet to the local squirrel, which I've dubbed Nemesis for my dog's running feud with it's mere existence. Oddly enough, she doesn't bark at the birds. But, anyway.... While every possible bird in the world isn't shown, that would involve a much longer, less fun read for novices, it does do an excellent job of capturing types I've seen frequently in my own yard and then some. There's a white raven in neighboring community, so I definitely looked upfront to see if ravens were included and, yep, they are. Lots of fun facts about bird types, too.

More importantly, it's a fun, easy read. I highly recommend it to fledgling birders or those, like me, who simply enjoy watching them in random moments. It'd also make a great gift. Thanks #NetGalley and #StoreyPublishing for reminding me/us of the marvels as close as our own front windows

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This is an amazing, deceptively simple, beautiful book. If you are an educator who keeps a feeder on your classroom window, or on the yard, this is a book to add to your classroom library. I will be getting one for my office, which has a window feeder, and many people who stop by to check out "bird TV".

Instead of the standard field guide approach, this is set up as a book that will grow with a learner. The author, Clare Walker Leslie, begins with information around the ways we are drawn to birds, and her own journey to becoming a birder. Her sketches, of both birds, and the places she has found them, are part of what makes this such a stunning book.

Rather than provide the usual pages of different bird profiles, Leslie asks the reader to think about what they are seeing, and to get used to categorizing what they see. How big is the bird? What does it look like in flight? What are the features that might help you differentiate different types of the same bird. The section on field marks is remarkable and hugely helpful, especially if you regularly see "little brown birds" (sparrows), and aren't sure how to tell them apart. She also includes a section on what you might be hearing, which is something many birders want to know more about.

This book is one that would be brilliant to pair with a set of decent binoculars and a small sketch kit for any budding ornithologist in your life, no matter how old they are. Huge thanks to Storey Publishing and NetGalley for a review copy.

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Lovely quick and easy read with many of the author’s sketches of birds. This book is meant for the very beginning bird watcher. Although it does contain an extremely short section on how to sketch birds near the end, the primary focus is to talk about bird basics, with examples of the most common birds in the US. Read curtesy of NetGalley.

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What stands out with this bird watching guidebook:

The actual notes and original sketches from the author’s journal.

Yes. You can actually go for this reason ONLY.

BUT this guidebook has actually lots more to offer! The colourful high quality pages, the amazing illustrations, accurate descriptions of different birds and the actual guide on how we can gather information about different birds from watching them. I specifically love the information on the flight patterns of different birds. Oh, the facts given are mind blowing too!

Just go for this one if you are thinking of gifting this book to a younger someone who’s interested in birds and nature.

Thank you, Storey Publishing, for the advance reading copy.

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"How to Look at a Bird" by Clare Walker Leslie is a beautiful book full of hand-drawn sketches giving it the warmth of a friend sharing their personal nature journal. Tailored for the beginner bird watcher, the approach is informal and never patronizing. Although the birds reflect the authors home in the eastern US, the content is relevant to bird watching anywhere in the world.

The author encourages simple activities like observing, listening and even drawing. And I was delighted to find a short section on drawing birds at the end. This book is perfect for anyone looking to deepen their appreciation of nature and engage in mindful bird-watching. And no, that doesn't mean you have to spend hours out in the countryside, many of Clare's sketches are drawn from her apartment window, or as she sits in a parked car.

Thank you to Storey Publishing and NetGalley for letting me read the early version of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Incredible! This is one of the most well executed field guides I have ever read.

What makes this field guide stand apart from all others is that it is personal. Between the plethora of hand drawn observations and the anecdotal stories of how the author got into birding, this guide really adds a layer of passion to itself. Most field guides are just that, guides, but this book really made me want to read more.

Each chapter is later expertly laid out to address a certain bird watching topic in a way that is both detailed and simple to digest. Each section also includes pages of bird species, how to identify them, and some natural history about them. I really enjoyed that these were interspersed throughout each section instead of listed one after the other - it broke them up enough that I didn’t get overwhelmed.

I HIGHLY recommend this guide and will certainly be purchasing it to go along with the education I provide at the nature center I work for.

Thank you NetGalley and Storey Publishing for an ARC of this guide.

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Wonderful book on not only how to look at and identify birds, but also how to capture them on your nature journal. You would actually be killing two birds with one stone! I loved how everything is organized on every aspect of a bird and what to look for. I have no patience for bird-watching but if I were to get a book on the subject, this would be one of them. For sure!

5 stars.

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In my family's personal journey towards 1000 Hours Outside and nature journaling, this book is an invaluable addition. Not only does it teach about birds and journaling, but it also teaches how to sit and observe and use those observations to create something. I would never have thought about breaking down these observations in the way that this book does, and I am so glad to be able to use this book as an amazing resource because of that. I'll be purchasing a physical copy to add to my children's library.

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