Bird Books, Part 2

For those who may have missed Part 1 of Care’s Bird Book Collection, please stop by the previous post.

Part 2a.
Let’s now explore the least oldest of the three books:  A Guide to Bird Finding [East of the Mississippi] by Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr., Oxford University Press 1955 (Second Printing; Original 1951)

This one does not smack of ego in any way.   It is designed around the concept of WHERE and how to find birds and organized by State.    All species of birds regularly occurring in these 26 states (and adjacent parts of Canada along the New York and Maine borders) are given proper attention.   The index is helpfully arranged.   (yea, yea; alphabetical)

The migratory movements of landbirds on the Mississippi coast are worthy of special mention.  In the fall, from late July until after the first of November, transient thrushes, vireos, warblers and other small passerine* species can be seen reguarly, peaks of abundance being in September and October.   A marked peculiarity of the fall migration is the presnece of western birds, occasionally in appreciable numbers.

and so on and so forth.     The book actually gives and names and addresses of property owners to ask permission before traversing lands to catch a glimpse of this or that fair feathered friend.     Which made me curious to see how many editions were published of this guide.   [I scamper off to see what I can find…  OK, I’m back.    I found a 1980 edition at the Barnes & Noble site.]

Only a few illustrations – this is NOT a bird identification guide but a WHERE to FIND guide.  I get the impression that Professor Pettingill was courteous and efficient.

Both this book and the Peterson one discussed in Part 1 belonged to a Ms. Mildred A. Ashley.    I did not find anything when I googled this name.     I doubt this book was ever used as a guide – it has the feel of a book that was never opened (except when Mildred signed her name to the first page inside the cover.)


Part 2b.
Now this book looks charming from the get-go.   The cover has color and a big question mark surrounding a bird.   WHAT BIRD IS THAT? by Frank M. Chapman was published by D. Appleton and Company 1920.    It has had two owners (or three if you count the nursing home):    Helen E.L. Perry and Hope W. Alden, per names written on front pages.

Mr. Chapman was quite the busy ornithologist;  he was Curator of Birds in the American Museum of Natural History and Editor of “Bird-Lore” (which I gather was the magazine published by the Audubon Society.   Let me go check on that…   yes, but allow me to rephrase “… the precursor to what was to become the …”)

This just might have been THE guide to have to identify birds.    and check out the pretty colors:

Another cool find is a sheet of carefully traced birds in the thinnest pencil imagined.   It wouldn’t photograph well, unfortunately.   I wonder if this was Hope or Helen’s work.     Flipping through the pages, I find only one handwritten note – that a Baltimore Oriole was spotted in (near?) Danvers on May 13, 1928.      One small tiny connection to another place and time.

RED-EYED VIREO –  A tireless soliloquest, the Red-eyed Vireo repeats from our shade and fruit trees in endless succession the broken phrases of his monotonous, rambling recitation.    He sings all day and he sings throughout the summer, pausing only to sleep or to swallow the caterpillar he hunts while singing.   Patient, persistent mediocrity is expressed by the Red-eye’s song, and only his nasal, petulant call-note, whang, suggests that he is not altogether satisfied with life as he finds it.

I did have plans for these books but I’m rethinking them.   If anyone has any suggestions (or is a descendent of the owners and you want them back!) please feel free to leave me a comment.

* passerine |ˈpasərin; -ˌrīn| Ornithology      (adjective)     – of, relating to, or denoting birds of a large order distinguished by feet that are adapted for perching, including all songbirds.



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4 thoughts on “Bird Books, Part 2

  1. Those both sound beautiful. I’ll bet things have changed pretty dramatically since 1920, as far as where to go. Of course, who to ask if you can cross their property would change, but also . . . Katrina. She did some major shifting of bird life, at least for a while.

    BTW, I’m still interested. Everything you’ve reviewed, so far, has made me salivate. I wish you lived next door. I’m always wishing that, though. Could you move to Mississippi, please?

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