Gardner and Overcott selected species that are uncommon because of dwindling populations, species that may be common elsewhere but not in the Upper Midwest, species that may be abundant one year and absent the next, and species that are usually present but are seldom seen. Beginning with the surf scoter with its multicolored bill and ending with the gregarious evening grosbeak, which resembles a giant goldfinch, they pair watercolors of each species with text that portrays its life cycle, its vocalizations and appearance, and its habitat, food, and foraging methods as well as migration patterns and distribution.
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Dana Gardner has illustrated more than twenty-six books, including most recently A Field Guide to the Birds of Belize. Nancy Overcott writes columns for the Fillmore County Journal, NatureScape News, and Minnesota Birding. They are the coauthors of Fifty Common Birds of the Upper Midwest (IOWA 2006) as well as the laminated guide Birds at Your Feeder: A Guide to Winter Birds of the Great Plains (IOWA 2003).