An Enchantment of Birds

This week I read ‘An Enchantment of Birds’ by Richard Cannings. What a gentle, insightful book! Its subtitle ‘Memories from a Birder’s Life’ aptly describes the book’s focus.
Richard Cannings was born in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and most of the thirty species of birds described in this book can be found in that valley. This doesn’t mean that if you are not familiar with the Okanagan Valley  or with the province of British Columbia that you should give the book a miss. It will delight any bird lover, even the hard core.
Each of the thirty chapters starts with a gentle, story-type introduction, seducing the reader to go deeper into these  experience with this kind of bird. It is these personal experiences that make the book such a pleasant and relaxing read.
The illustrations – line drawings – by Donald Gunn support and enhance the text. My only negative comment is the cover design, which almost put me off even picking the book up, never mind buying it. Please don’t be discouraged by the crudely done bird picture on the front cover – it does not reflect the carefully observed and nuanced reflections and stories that the book contains.
I learned a great deal from the writer’s experiences. Chickadees, for instance, can survive extremely cold temperatures partly by restricting the blood flow to their bare legs and feet so that these can be almost freezing while the muscles in the upper legs, covered with feathers, allow the bird to keep active.
Richard Cannings draws on the memories of a lifetime as a naturalist to tell the reader about birds as diverse as the golden eagle and the pygmy nuthatch
If it is a pleasure to you to learn maore about nature, get this book. It will delight your senses.

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