My copy of the Idaho Falls Area Birds by the Snake River Audubon Society and the Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Department, is already well used.
If the retail chains are any indicator, Christmas is just around the corner. In fact, it has been, “just around the corner”, since well before Halloween. I have my own personal feelings about crazed commercialization, but I will admit, by the time mid-November rolls around, I am starting to think about Christmas and what I can buy that will be meaningful, useful and engaging for the people I love.
Recently I provided a few photographs for a new book, Idaho Falls Area Birds, compiled, edited and printed in a cooperative effort between Snake River Audubon and Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation. At $10, this handy little book looks to be the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone interested in wildlife in the Idaho Falls area.
Why do we need another book about birds? Isn’t Sibley’s Guide to Birds or Nat Geo’s Field Guide to Birds of North America, or Audubon’s bird identification app enough? Well, if you are interested in birds or wildlife in general, the answer to that is a big, Duh. We ALWAYS need more reference books and he or she who dies with the most wins. Period.
Beyond that though, this book describes 112 species that one might see around Idaho Falls and the surrounding area. Yes, there are more bird species here than that. According to this book, at least 262 species have been seen in Bonneville County alone. These 112 represent the most common birds.
I have been a passive (lazy) birdwatcher for years, and when I thumbed through each species and read its account, I realized that I had seen most but not all of them, and certainly not all in Bonneville County. I particularly enjoyed the species accounts because, as this was written by local birders and didn’t have to face the rigors of a clueless publisher, there are tips and comments seldom seen in the larger books. I picked up a number of identification tips that will prove useful.
This book is small, approximately 4 inches by five inches with a nice wire spiral binding that allows the book to open completely. It is pocket-sized and a perfect field companion or a book to keep next to the binoculars at your bird feeding station. The pages are glossy and the photographs, supplied by local photographers, do a good job depicting the species. I only regret that, due to space limitations, when species which have wildly different looking sexes (think rooster and hen ring-neck pheasant) are presented, only the male is shown. I have more trouble with the females as a rule.
In the front of the book are a couple of paragraphs on where to bird in Idaho Falls and the surrounding area. In the back is a handy index to help you quickly find birds.
This book is available from Snake River Audubon (www.snakeriveraudubon.org), the Art Museum, Barnes and Noble, The Zoo, pro golf shops as well as the recreation center on Memorial Drive. If you are looking for a gift for someone who is new to birding, has bird feeders, or just wants to know more about birds, this book is perfect—and it fits well in a Christmas stocking.
Help Idaho Wildlife
When we traveled across the state in October 2017, most of the vehicles we saw using the wildlife management areas did not have wildlife plates. Buying wildlife plates is a great way for non-hunters and hunters alike to support wildlife-based recreation like birding.
C'mon folks, let's help Idaho's wildlife by proudly buying and displaying a wildlife license plate on each of our vehicles!
See below for information on Idaho plates. Most states have wildlife plates so if you live outside Idaho, check with your state's wildlife department or vehicle licensing division for availability of state wildlife plates where you live.
Wildlife License Plates
Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.
No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.
Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.
Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program. Go figure.
"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson
That is embarrassing but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.
Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.
Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.
"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman
"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.
To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version
Copies are also available at:
Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)
Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls
Harriman State Park, Island Park
Museum of Idaho
Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming
Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah
Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho