Friday, November 7, 2014

Birds On the Wing and On my Lawn

from wikipedia
The other morning I was awakened by turkeys chuckling beneath my window. They'd congregated on the side yard near the tall grass, and were making their way towards the hickory tree. This has been a good year for turkey - food has been falling out of the sky for weeks and we can't walk anywhere without smashing acorns beneath our heels.

Besides chuckling, turkeys purr, cluck and gobble. They even hiss, though I haven't heard that. You can hear turkey calls over at Cornell Lab of Ornithology's turkey page.

Not all birds hang out on my lawn; there are a number that flit, flap, and soar overhead. I've often wondered what it would be like to take to the sky. Now I don't need wings; I can open David Elliott's newest book, On the Wing
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
32 pages; ages 3-7
Candlewick, 2014

theme: animals, nature

From hummingbirds to eagles, this book waxes poetic about birds from all over in all kinds of weather. There are Japanese cranes dancing in the snow, flamingos, bowerbirds, condors and puffins. Elliott includes a few backyard feeder-friends we might already know: woodpecker, blue jay, cardinal, crow.

The illustrations are luscious, with details of feathers and beaks right on down to the toes. Here's one of the spreads, featuring my favorite late-winter visitor.

 Beyond the book: Fill up a bird feeder and watch who comes to visit. Or visit an aviary. Take a close look at the birds you see: what do their beaks look like? Do they have feather crests? Are they brightly-colored or more earth-toned? What do their calls sound like? How do they act around other birds or around people?

Now try your hand at writing poetry "on the wing". Remember, poems don't have to rhyme, and they can be as short as a puffin's beak or as long as a peacock's tail.

You can see out what other bloggers are reviewing over at the STEM Friday blog. Today's review is also part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.


  1. This book looks wonderful! Wild turkeys are pretty incredible, when you've experienced them first hand you can see why Ben Franklin advocated for them as our national bird! Have you had the experience of seeing them fly up to roost for the night, or come down out of the trees in the morning? Amazing and unexpected. Those acorns are something else this year-

  2. Yes, I agreee, wild turkeys are pretty incredible -- and noisy. What a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations for children. They'll be eager to identify birds in the yard. And, bird feeders are such a great way to draw different species into your yard. Visited my brother's huge farm last weekend and observed many birds I didn't know.

  3. What a lovely choice! I love those non-fiction gems which prove they can be just as engaging as any other picture book.

  4. We've had quite a few turkey visitors in our neighborhood. I love when they come. The book looks terrific. It's on order at my local library and I'm first in line to get it when it comes in. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. I have yet to see wild turkeys, though the bird viewing opportunities in Central Park are terrific. Great choice.

  6. Love the spread you shared. I definitely want to read this one. Thanks for the review.

  7. We used to have a bird feeder house on a palm in our back yard till it broke. But the seagulls and the odd Tui still come by along with the sparrows, as well we see along the road near parks the Pukekos down here. Lovely illustrations in this book.

  8. This looks like a beautiful book! We're all into bird books and bird watching around here. I'll be checking this one out! Thanks!

  9. My brother lives in a rural area in Illinois in a house overlooking a meadow in a valley. Last year, I saw a Tom strut out of the woods with his tail spread. He looked huge (and proud of himself) even from a distance! Thanks for highlighting this book. It looks and sounds wonderful!