Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me?--A book review

I recently finished Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me?: More Answers to Common and Not-So-Common Questions about Birds and Birding by Mike O'Connor, a book in the same Q&A format as his previous volume, Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? They are both fun reads, but I have to confess I didn't buy either one. I read Woodpeckers over a pot of tea at the Borders cafe, before Borders bummed me out by going bankrupt...and I got Bluebirds for free as a First Reads Giveaway with Good Reads.**

O'Connor owns a wild bird store and has a birdy newspaper column, so he gets asked a lot of bird-related questions. I've been asked some similar questions myself, such as "Why won't a certain bird come to my feeders?" and "What's up with all the grackles in my yard each fall?", though when I try to answer them, some people will scrunch up their faces and say, "No, I don't think that's the reason."

"Honest," I tell these skeptics, "that's the explanation. I read about it in a science book. By an ornithologist."

Then they pause and tilt to head to one side, thinking it over, before stating, with a final decisive nose-squinch: "No, that just doesn't sound right. I think I'll go ask the people at the wild bird store."

And then I respond with the utmost courtesy and patience:

Well, now I have another option before resorting to crude gestures--I'll just whip out my copy of Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me?, which is not a science book by an ornithologist, as anyone can tell by the amount of humor in it. Even though I already knew the A's to most of the Q's in his Q&A chapters, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit, simply because of the jokes and wry comments. I even snickered from time to time, which actually places it quite high on my funny-meter. I'm just not the laugh-out-loud type.

Despite all those ornithology books I just bragged about reading, I did learn some fun facts as well, such as that titmice won't fly over water. They won't even cross a modest channel like the Cape Cod Canal. They got there by flying from girder to girder on the bridges. Another new tidbit--blue jays sometimes eat pain chips, presumably to get calcium.

I would definitely recommend Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me? for backyard birders and those new to the hobby. It would also make a nice stocking-stuffer for friends and relatives who still don't understand what all those grackles are doing in the yard, even after you explained it to them so nicely. At least if you want them to still speak to you the next time they have a question.

**I don't have much experience with free books arriving in the mail, but apparently I am required to disclose this in my review. It goes without saying that I was not bribed in any way and this is my honest opinion. (As if anything could get between me and my opinions--just ask my long-suffering family!)


  1. Oooh, I want to get free books in the mail, too, and this one sounds like fun! About a month ago I noticed a beautiful family of sandhill cranes in a just-hayed farmer's field. A coworker, who drives the same route as I, asked me if I'd noticed the emus in the field, on my way to work. It took some persuading on my part to convince her no one up here had taken to raising emus! Then there was the coworker who brought me a photo of the "scary" birds sitting outside her house on the wires. I was able to say, in all sincerity, that she'd taken a great photo of starlings. (And no, they wouldn't attack her or her St. Bernard when they went out for walks.) MOM

  2. Interesting and fun blog. I'll look for the book as I like a little humor with the "serious science" questions....:)