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Of Books + Birds

Updated: Feb 7

Books and birds are natural companions.

Even as a child, I remember countless nursery rhyme mentions of birds, from "The Owl and the Pussycat" to "Sing a Song of Sixpence" (remember the 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie?).

One of my favourite childhood limericks was written Edward Lear:

There was an old man with a beard,

who said: 'It is just as I feared!

Two owls and a hen, four larks and a wren have all built their nests in my beard.

Once I learned to read, I was a huge fan of Owls in the Family by Canadian author Farley Mowat (who I would later get a chance to interview as an adult). I was fascinated by the idea of caring for a wild bird like the main character in the book, but somehow my parents weren't as enthusiastic...

Other wonderful, bird-inspired books for kids include Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. Now that our family lives in Stratford, Ontario (a town well-known for its ducks and swans), I think of these books often as I walk along the Avon River.

Of course, adult literature is also brimming with birds. Here are a few famous titles:

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

One Few Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kessey

Penguin Bloom by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive

Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Do you have a favourite book featuring birds? Let us know!

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