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Owling

Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night

Mark Wilson
Storey Publishing
2019
120 pp.
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Birds are some of the most accessible wild animals. Observing them requires no special equipment. Although we may hear owls outside as we prepare to slumber, however, few of us see them regularly.

Focusing on the biology of these predatory birds, this book is broken into four chapters that are accessible to most ages, although younger children will probably want to focus on the many fascinating owl pictures. Fun facts are tucked among the pages, often with photographic illustrations. Did you know, for example, that owls have feathered eyelids?

Author Mark Wilson is a wildlife photojournalist who also cares for owls that cannot live in the wild. This access lends itself to stunning images of the species discussed in the book, which include photographs of their habitat and identifying marks, as well as many images of nestlings.

The book discusses some avian commonalities, as well as how owls differ from other birds. One section specifically introduces the 19 owl species of North America, including how and where to find and identify them. Noting that owls are probably closer than one might think and that many are active during the day, one of the highlights of the book is the discussion of how to study one’s surroundings to identify the likely presence and location of a nearby owl. (Hint: Look for their excrement and remains of their meals, known as owl pellets.)

Owling presents several case studies of people who work with owls, providing role models and offering potential future careers for its younger readers. Anyone interested in identifying and learning about the owls with which we share the world will likely enjoy paging through this book, all the more so if it is used as an owl guide.

About the author

The reviewer is a senior editor at Science.