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Friday, December 11, 2015

About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children, written by Cathryn Sill and illustrated by John Sill. Peachtree, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2011. $19.95 ages 3 and up

"They have sharp
narrow bills and long
tongues that help them
reach into blossoms
for nectar.

Hummingbirds also
hunt and eat small
insects and spiders."

I spent part of last month with my daughter Erin and her family in Victoria. The days were a delight, often finding us sipping tea in the afternoon and occasionally watching hummingbirds that visited the trees outside the balcony window. They are such tiny, beautiful creatures. It is hard not to be in awe of them.

Following up on the About ... Series guides that include amphibians, arachnids, birds, crustaceans,  penguins, and others, this book is sure to please those who want more information about the tiny wonders. The text is simply written for the young audience this guide hopes to inform. It is accessible and easy to follow along as the author describes the many characteristics of the hummingbird.

We learn about their food, their means for getting the food they need, those things that make them unique, their descriptive markers, their homes, their young and their enemies. We learn that their habitats are many, and that the changing seasons affect the time they spend there.

The illustrations are appealing and look like they come from a birder's journal. They are carefully drawn, depicting size, color, setting for each of the included plates. In an afterword each of those eighteen plates are shown in thumbnails and accompanied by more detailed information about the type of hummingbird pictured:

"Most of the hummingbirds found in North America migrate north in spring. In fall when flowers stop blooming, they migrate south to spend the winter in place where they can find food. Rufous Hummingbirds migrate farther north than any other kind of hummingbird - as far as parts of Alaska. They spend summers in western North America and winters in Mexico and along the Gulf Coast of the United States."

Useful and informative, the book also includes a glossary, suggestions for further reading, websites and the helpful resources that were used for research.

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