355 pages, colour & b/w illustrations
Julie Zickefoose lives for the moment when a wild, free living bird that she has raised or rehabilitated comes back to visit her; their eyes meet and they share a spark of understanding. Her reward for the grueling work of rescuing birds – such as feeding baby hummingbirds every twenty minutes all day long – is her empathy with them and the satisfaction of knowing the world is a birdier and more beautiful place.
The Bluebird Effect is about the change that's set in motion by one single act, such as saving an injured bluebird – or a hummingbird, swift, or phoebe. Each of the twenty five chapters covers a different species, and many depict an individual bird, each with its own personality, habits, and quirks. And each chapter is illustrated with Zickefoose's stunning watercolor paintings and drawings. Not just individual tales about the trials and triumphs of raising birds, The Bluebird Effect mixes humor, natural history, and memoir to give readers an intimate story of a life lived among wild birds.
"[...] There are many things about this book to recommend it, not the least of which is that it’s a great read and beautifully illustrated. But for me, its most significant aspect is the compelling demonstration that birds are more than the sum of field marks, more than physiology or behavior to be studied, more even than populations to be saved. The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds is a book that would appeal to anyone, not just birdwatchers. In fact, I would especially recommend it to non-birders who, after reading it, I daresay will look at birds in an entirely new light."
- Grant McCreary (18-06-2012), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"Birders will appreciate her meticulous observations and devotion to the avian world, but anyone who's ever considered hanging a birdfeeder is likely to be mesmerized by the sensuous, precise prose as well as Zickefoose's vivid portraits of scrawny, fluffy phoebe chicks, a self-possessed hummingbird perched on a clothesline, dwarfed by the surrounding clothespins, and orioles migrating by moonlight. Readers will be astounded by the drama and intelligence fluttering in their backyards."
- Publishers Weekly
"Beguiling stories from a naturalist's life with backyard birds [...] Describing her songbirds with a delicacy of words and brush strokes, Zickefoose makes learning about birds seem like the adventure of a lifetime. A wonderful treat for birders."
"A wonderful amalgam of nature writing and memoir [...] This lovely book is one to savor slowly, admiring both writing and artistry."
- Booklist, starred review
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Julie Zickefoose began illustrating natural history subjects as a college freshman in 1976. Since then, her writing has been featured in Bird Watcher's Digest, on NPR's All Things Considered, and her book of illustrated essays Letters from Eden.