Monday, August 17, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - What Bluebirds Do

My backyard is full of birds. In the spring it brims with the color of cardinals and blue jays, as well as the noise of the woodpecker. I'm constantly looking for new ways to attract birds, and after reading Pamela Kirby's new book, I may just need to build myself a nest box.
What Bluebirds Do, written and photographed by Pamela Kirby, is the story of a pair of nesting Bluebirds and their young. In the Author's Note that precedes the text, Kirby describes how the story came to be.
As I sat in the blind that spring and watched those marvelous Bluebirds raise their families, I wanted to share their wonderful story with young readers. The story happened as it is written. The behaviors and events are actual. The Bluebirds lived the story. I took the images and lots of notes.
The book opens with a gorgeous full-page photo of a pair of Bluebirds and the accompanying text on the facing page.
This is a story of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds that built a nest in my backyard.

They laid eggs, hatched the eggs, and raised their chicks.
On the next double-page spread readers are introduced to the male and female birds (mom and dad). Closeup photos of each highlight the physical differences between the two. The following spread provides information about other birds that are blue and explains how the Indigo Bunting and Blue Jay are different from the Bluebird. From this point readers learn about the Bluebirds' courtship, their nest building, egg laying, hatching and growth of the chicks, first flight, and growth of the fledglings into little Bluebirds.

The text is written in simple, yet precise language. There is a glossary to help with difficult and/or unfamiliar terms, such as brood, fledgling, instinct, and roost. The text and photographs work extremely well-together, with photos providing clear, vibrant illustrations of the action. For example, on the page describing what baby Bluebirds ate ("mostly insects, worms, and berries") there is a photo of the female holding several mealworms and a caterpillar in her mouth, preparing to enter then nest. (You can see images from the book at Eastern Bluebirds and Eastern Bluebird Pair.)

Following the text is extensive back matter. Two pages are devoted to describing the three species of Bluebirds that live in North America: the Eastern Bluebird (chronicled in the book), the Mountain Bluebird, and the Western Bluebird. Two more pages are devoted to Bluebirds Through the Year, which detail a bit more of Bluebird behavior. Next are two pages devoted to Bringing Back the Bluebirds (did you know they were once in danger of disappearing?) and Bluebirds in Your Yard, which briefly describes where to find information about attracting Bluebirds to your yard. Finally, the author provides of a list of books and web sites where readers can learn more. She also lists some places to order mealworms for Bluebirds.

Kirby has done an outstanding job telling the Bluebirds' story while teaching readers a lot along the way. The final page contains the heading Bluebirds Rock! and a full-page image of a bluebird, up close and personal. Readers young and old alike will close this book echoing the sentiment. This is a fascinating book that deserves a home on your shelf. Recommended with enthusiasm.

Book: What Bluebirds Do
Author/Photographer: Pamela Kirby
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Publication Date: April, 2009
Pages: 48 pages
Grades: K-5
ISBN: 978-1590786147
Source of Book: Personal copy.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week is Sally Apokedak at All About Children's Books. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.


  1. What a lovely book ... I think my 5 y/o would really like it. Thank you!

  2. Sounds like a great book. Especially for Idaho- I believe the state's bird is a blue bird.