Roger Lederer, retired biologist at Chico State University, has studied birds for four decades. His expertise is on display at "Those Amazing Birds" blog (www.norcalblogs.com/birds) and now in the glorious "The Birds of Bidwell Park" ($17.95 in paperback, self-published). Teamed with artist-wife Carol Burr, retired professor of English at the university, Lederer introduces the lives and loves of 86 species commonly found in the park.
The full-color guide features Burr's pen and colored pencil drawings, symbols indicating the best spotting locations, a narrative describing the bird's life-cycle, and a sidebar containing a note of interest. Though some 200 species have been identified in the park, the book focuses on those birds most easily observed by even a casual visitor. It's simply a must-have for both kids and adults.
The book is available at several locations in Chico, including the Chico Creek Nature Center and Lyon Books. Lyon will be hosting a book signing on Wednesday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m.
"The Western Tanager," in both upper and lower park, "is unquestionably the most strikingly colorful bird one might spot in Bidwell Park. . . . The male is mostly yellow with a dark tail, two yellow wing-bars, and an orange-red head. The female is greenish-yellow above and yellow below. . . . The red head of the male is due to a red pigment that the bird has to ingest from insects which in turn have eaten fruits containing the red pigment."
The American crow "suffers from a 100 percent death rate" from West Nile virus, though now "apparently some virus-resistant individuals are surviving to build the populations back." The crow "is one of the few bird species in the world to use tools to obtain food. It will drop acorns or other nuts on roadways and let cars crack the shells, and use sticks to probe for food items in the soil."
Anna's Hummingbird "is the only North American hummingbird with a totally red head. . . . The male has a thin and buzz-like courtship song. While courting, the male performs a display dive at up to 50 mph. When he pulls out of the dive he spreads his wings and tail, resulting in a loud kind of squeak and boom."
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