Brian Keating reviews 'Backyard Bird Feeding: An Alberta Guide'

A new book about Alberta’s backyard birds has got naturalist Brian Keating a twitter.

Proceeds from book sales will go towards conservation and research

A new book about Alberta's backyard birds has got naturalist Brian Keating a twitter.

The book, "Backyard Bird Feeding: An Alberta Guide," was written by Myrna Pearman, a biologist and the long-time manager of the Ellis Bird Farm northeast of Red Deer, Alta.

The book is an updated version of Pearman's previous 1991 edition, and includes new information and photographs intended to give backyard birders what they need to turn their property into an avian heaven.

(Myrna Pearman)
It covers everything from feeder types to a discussion of seed or suet, and even includes a section on anti-squirrel devices, Keating said.

Backyard Bird Feeding also goes far beyond simple feeding notes, he said, and is full of fascinating bits of biological trivia.

For instance: "The pileated woodpecker G-force." The birds are capable of striking their beak against a tree 20 times per second, experiencing a deceleration force of up to 1,200 G with each impact.

For comparison, the average human gets a concussion at only 100 Gs, meaning each strike of the woodpecker's beak is the equivalent to a person smashing his or her face into a wall at 25 km/h.

Even Keating, who has been an avid birdwatcher and birdhouse builder since the age of 12, found the book served as a brilliant reminder of the incredible variety that backyard bird feeders can attract.

The book's timing is particularly poignant, Keating says, given the declining songbird population in the province, as well as ongoing habitat destruction.

All proceeds from the book's sales will go towards the Ellis Bird Farm to support conservation, education and research programs.