352 pages, 400+ colour illustrations
If you've ever wondered what goes on in bird nests, or what happens after a fledgling leaves the nest, come along on Julie's sensitive exploration of often-uncharted ornithological ground.
This beautiful book is as much an art book as it is a natural history, something readers have come to expect from Julie Zickefoose. More than 400 watercolor paintings show the breathtakingly swift development of seventeen different species of wild birds. Sixteen of those species nest on Julie's wildlife sanctuary, so she knows the birds intimately, and writes about them with authority. To create the bulk of this extraordinary work, Julie would borrow a wild nestling, draw it, then return it to its nest every day until it fledged. Some were orphans she raised by hand, giving the ultimate insider's glimpse into their lives. In sparkling prose, Julie shares a lifetime of insight about bird breeding biology, growth, and cognition.
As an artist and wildlife rehabilitator, Julie possesses a unique skill set that includes sketching and painting rapidly from life as well as handling delicate hatchlings. She is uniquely positioned to create such an opus, and in fact, nothing like it has ever been attempted. Julie has many fans, and she will gain many more with this unparalleled work.
"[...] Julie Zickefoose claims that “the transformation of a nestling each twenty-four hours is still the most astonishing yet underappreciated phenomenon I know of”. After reading Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest, you will find it just as astonishing while gaining considerable understanding and appreciation of it. It is a pleasure to observe this process through the art and words of this book."
– Grant McCreary (23-05-2016), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"No artist has ever depicted the development of nesting birds until now. In this marvelous new work, wildlife rehabilitator, artist, and author (The Bluebird Effect, 2012) Zickefoose rectifies this woeful lack by producing beautifully rendered watercolors and drawings illustrating the enormous changes nestling songbirds undergo every day as they grow up. As Zickefoose says, "there's magic in the nest", and the immediacy of her mostly drawn-from-life images will grab readers and immerse them into the nestlings' daily reinvention [...] Grab this one for the illustrations, then get pulled in by the prose."
– Booklist, starred review
"Baby Birds is a sweet, beak, tweet, treat. A gorgeous book that takes you intimately into the nest in a lyrical, lovely way. A treasure for all ages."
– Jamie Lee Curtis, actress and author
"Is there anything Julie Zickefoose won't do for a baby bird? Doubtful. This foster mother carries tiny nestlings against her belly, sings to them, performs emergency microsurgery, scrambles up bug omelets, and blow dries their nascent feathers. It's all done in the interest of figuring them out and capturing their transformation in glorious color, hour by hour, day by day. When Julie peers into the nest, we all learn something important not just about bird life, but about our place in the world."
– Melissa Block, NPR Special Correspondent
"There is no one I know who draws birds so exquisitely, and writes so touchingly about their lives. In her newest book, Julie Zickefoose details the tiniest nestlings with masterful strokes of her brush, gracing the miracle of their growth until they fledge. The stories that accompany each chapter are equally enchanting. I loved it."
– Jane Alexander, actress, author, and conservationist
"Baby Birds, despite its modest title and informal tone, [is] a breathtaking achievement, one of the most appealing natural-history books I have ever encountered."
– Jonathan Rosen, WSJ
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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 in her book of illustrated essays Letters from Eden. She lives in Ohio.