My wife Linda and I have several bird books by David Sibley, which we used a lot over the years, so I was excited to receive his new book, “What It’s Like To Be A Bird.” It’s an amazing book of details about lots of birds.

I thought I knew a lot about birds, but from the very first page, I not only learned a lot, I was astonished by all the things David shared with us about birds. As he said in the introduction, he wanted to tell us “about some of the more interesting and amazing things birds do.” Mission accomplished!

From the colors and feathers of birds to their sight, smell and hearing, you will be amazed at what you learn.

Did you know that peregrine falcons can fly as fast as 242 miles an hour? Wow! I did know wild turkeys are fast runners, and according to David, they’re the fastest runners of all the North American birds, running up to 25 miles per hour. No wonder I had such a hard time shooting them!

Bird migrations are amazing. Some even eat while they fly. One of my favorites, the blackpoll warbler, migrates from Alaska to Brazil and back every year.

I found it very interesting to learn how birds eat, because they have no hands or teeth. I enjoy watching robins wander all over our lawn, stopping every once in a while to pull out a worm, but I had no idea they eat as much as 14 feet of worms a day.

I’ve seen flocks of small birds flying along with hawks and eagles and harassing them. Now I know that is not unusual.

All of these things and a lot more I learned in the first section of the book. And it would have been a great book if it had ended there. But there is a lot more in the book, including colorful images of birds, a couple sections that tell us about lots of birds, and even a section on things you can do in a bunch of situations, such as if a bird hits your window or a woodpecker attacks your house. This has happened at our house and it was good to know what to do — and no, he doesn’t recommend that I shoot the woodpecker!

You don’t have to be an avid birder to enjoy this book. But if you are, and you think you know a lot about birds, you will be astonished at all you learn in this great book.

There’s even some advice about becoming a birder. Since Linda and I became birders, maybe about 25 years ago, it has added a lot to our lives, including our travels.

We got started because a friend kept turning up in our yard with her binoculars. It turns out our yard is perfect habitat for lots of birds, including warblers. Eventually we hooked up with birding guide Bob Duchesne, who taught us a lot about birds. One time in late August, Bob guided us around Lubec and Campobello, and took us to the beach in South Lubec, which he said was the best place to see migrating shorebirds. And boy, was he right!

Our most memorable birding trip was to Costa Rica, but we always enjoyed seeing new birds, including on trips to Arizona and Texas. On one trip to southeast Arizona, we spent a day with a guide. We gave her a list of 35 birds we’d never seen, and she found all of them for us. That was amazing.

We always had one of David Sibley’s bird books when we were birding. And I have to say, birding always added to our trips. But you don’t have to be obsessive about it. It’s just fun to see and identify birds when you’re outdoors. And it’s always exciting to see a new or rare bird.

So, get out there and check out the birds!

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at

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