Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Friday, July 27, 2018

For the Birds

     Our find on the used book floor this week is for the birds – at least, it is all about the birds.  The keeper of our find was a copy of “Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification” book that was printed in 1966.  Full of illustrated pictures and descriptions, “Birds of North America” provides 325 pages of information for the interested bird watcher from any part of the continent.

     In the 52 year-old guidebook, we found a small dental appointment reminder card belonging to the owner of the book in April of 1980.  The owner (besides needing to make a dentist appointment) was clearly a bird enthusiast/watcher, as she made precise notes on the dental card about bird activity on one particular day of that year: April 17.  On this day, at precisely 7:00am, (which was observed by the watcher to be warmer than usual at 65 degrees, might we add) the bird enthusiast noted that she saw the following 11 birds out her window: a cardinal, dove, goldfinch, brown-headed cow bird, evening grosbeak, purple finch, chickadee, blue jay, titmouse, white-throated sparrow, and red-winged blackbird.  This was all during a morning cup of coffee!

  Now, we know what you are thinking…was this person confused with some sort of “Wild America” bird-themed TV program that may have aired that day?  Rest assured, this is not possible, as we researched and found that both “Wild America” and the popular PBS “Nature” series, trailblazers of their time, did not debut until two years later in 1982.  Wherever our mystery bird enthusiast/watcher was, (and we assume she was on the North American continent, hence the book) she was clearly experiencing a bird palooza of sorts.  Apparently April 17 of 1980 was a big day for our feathered friends!

      This date, however, was not the only one noted by our mystery bird watcher.  The enthusiast wrote small dates next to the illustrations of some of the birds throughout “Birds of North America,” as well, noting what month and year each bird was observed.  These notes actually began prior to 1980, as, for example, the Hairy Woodpecker was observed in February of 1976, the White-Crowned Sparrow stopped by for a brief snack near the pencil-wielding enthusiast in May of 1996, and the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak briefly posed for a viewing in April of 2004.  If you are keeping track yourself, this means that this copy of “Birds of North America” contains viewing dates and notes from over 40 years of bird watching by our observer and book owner.  That is pretty incredible and, we think, a small slice of history.

     The “Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification” book, complete with decades of notes and observations, can be all yours for a grand total of $3.00.  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by our store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

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