Whenever I see another book about landscaping or gardening for the birds come out, I’m usually dubious. My shelves are full of generic guides on how to attract birds and unsurprisingly, they’re much the same. They usually focus heavily on bird feeders, bird baths and plants which are often labeled as native, yet are only really native to small portions of the country. It’s a very hard thing to write a book for the whole, giant, diverse continent and nearly every single one I have seen makes little attempt to address this in the plant choices. They instead list various plants, but don’t specify where exactly they are native. My go-to book for a long time has been Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest because it’s so specific to my region and has excellent plant information. Unfortunately, few other areas in North America are as lucky to have a book this detailed in specifics pertaining to wildlife and native flora.
When Timber Press announced a new book with the title Gardening for the Birds, I was, needless to say, skeptical. I expressed my doubts about a single book being sufficient to cover the whole massive thing that is North America, with our countless habitats and region-specific plants. Timber Press however, was convinced that I would like it if I gave it a go and sent me a copy to try and change my mind. It is authored by George Adams, an “avid birdwatcher, landscape designer, a wildlife artist and a photographer”.
The book is unique in its layout. Instead of following the format of most bird-gardening books, which usually fall along the lines of; designing your landscape, choosing plants, adding food, adding water and so on, this book begins with the basics of planning the garden, followed by a discussion about regions and how your garden fits into the wider landscape. However the most sizable chunk of this book lies in parts three and four which are the ‘Plant Directory’ and ‘Bird Directory’ respectively.