If you have been buying our bird food for a while, you might be starting to see some new visitors to your garden. Sometimes it can be hard to work out who is coming to investigate the new food, and that’s where a brilliant reference book can come in handy. There is nothing that brightens up my day more than spotting a new bird in the garden, and it’s always good to be able to identify it too. I keep a few of my favourite books just beside the back window so I can check the names of any birds I haven’t seen before, and I annotate my books with notes about what I have seen (to aid my useless memory)!
Let me share my favourite books – please share yours in the comments too – I’m always on the lookout for a new book!
The Ladybird Book of Garden Birds
My copy of this classic was printed in 1967, but I absolutely love it and use it every day (despite it being intended for children). The pictures are beautiful, and the descriptions are great – although old fashioned and unflattering at times – the description of blue tits (small dumpy birds with short bills) in particular makes me laugh. The book contains illustrations and descriptions of over forty commonly found garden birds, with details of their calls, the food they eat, their nesting preferences and information about how they rear their young. Although it’s not the most modern of books, I wouldn’t be without it.
A Practical Illustrated Guide to Attracting and Feeding Garden Birds (contributing editor Jen Green)
This is a longer book and a great reference when it comes to garden birds, containing general information about their anatomy and behaviour, breeding, habitats and more. There is a large section on ways to encourage more birds to your garden, including garden design and planting tips and plans for building a nesting box or feeder from scratch. At the back of the book is a comprehensive guide to the bird species of the British Isles. Although this book isn’t packed with the character of some of the others on this list, it is definitely very detailed and great value for money.
Spotting and Jotting Guide by Matt Sewell
This is a brilliant little book, ideal for keeping beside the back window, or even in your pocket when you go out for a walk. Although the descriptions are brief, the pictures are beautiful (as with all of Matt Sewell’s designs), and the book is designed to work as a checklist for the inspiring twitcher, rather than as a detailed reference book. What I love most about this book is the character Matt puts across in each of his evocative descriptions – long tailed tits are very sweetly described as little clouds in tracksuits, which makes me smile every time.
The Complete Garden Bird Book by Mark Golley and Stephen Moss (illustrated by David Daly)
This book begins with a brief few pages of information about bird habitats, food sources and behaviour, but the main bulk of the book is made up of beautifully illustrated descriptions of our wonderful British birds. Each bird is illustrated from different angles, and you can learn about their behaviours and breeding. It is a lovely book if you are looking for plenty of detail, and a great reference for any bird lover.
Our Garden Birds by Matt Sewell
Here is another beautiful book by Matt Sewell, this time with longer versions of his characterful descriptions. The illustrations really capture the unique features of each bird. Although it’s not designed to be as scientific as The Complete Garden Bird Book, it does make an entertaining read an I love having a flick through while I’m watching the birds in our garden.
Rewild Your Garden by Frances Tophill
I rave about this brilliant book on a regular basis. Although it is not specifically a book about birds, I had to add it to my list because of the inspiration it offers its readers to encourage wildlife into their gardens. There are brief descriptions of some of the more common British birds, and Frances (of Gardener’s World fame) offers her wisdom to help us encourage birds and wildlife back into our gardens.
Whether you prefer a more detailed and scientific reference book or a shorter and more characterful read to flick through, there are plenty of great options out there. I would love to hear about your favourite books – please share in the comments!
To encourage some of the beautiful birds referenced in these lovely books, why not subscribe to a monthly delivery of top quality bird food?