Enjoying the Birds of the Ottawa Valley
This book was written in 1985, and is out of date in many respects in this section
Clubs for Bird Watchers
The Pembroke & Area Bird Club was formed in 1983. It organizes the
Festival of Swallows during the second week of August, an event that
draws thousands of tourists to view the 150,000 swallows that roost
at the mouth of the Muskrat River. It publishes a quarterly
newsletter, The Swallow. It organizes film nights and field trips.
The information number is (613)735-0366, or write P.O. Box 1242,
Pembroke Ont. K8A 6Y6.
The Macnamara Field Naturalists' Club was formed in 1984, for
naturalists in the Arnprior-Almonte-Pakenham area. It publishes a
monthly bulletin, and a newsletter, The Lady's-Slipper. It holds
regular meetings, lectures and field trips; birds are the most
popular interest of its members. For information write P.O. Box 94,
Arnprior Ont. K7S 3H2.
The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
was founded in 1879 to "work up the natural history" of the area. It publishes The Canadian
Field-Naturalist, a quarterly that has reported research in natural history relevant to Canada for
hundred years. Trail & Landscape provides articles on the natural history of the Ottawa Valley
and on local
Club activities four times a year. The club arranges talks and field trips throughout the year, and
bird status line at (613) 596-4888. For information call (613)722-3050 after 10am, or write Box
C, Ottawa K1Y 4J5.
Le Club des Ornithologues de l'Outaouais was founded in 1978 for
French-speaking people interested in birds and natural science. It
holds field trips throughout a 240x280 km region, from the des
Joachims rapids to Montreal and from the Ottawa River to the north
edge of La Vérendrye Park. It publishes a newsletter l'Ornitaouais
three times a year. It operates a bird hot-line on (819) 778-0737.
For information call (819)776-3822, or write Box 419 Station A,
Hull (Québec) J8Y 6P2.
The Ottawa Banding Group was formed in 1982 to document the status
and distribution of birds within the Ottawa area and to operate a
bird observatory, to provide training in banding, at Innis Point,
of Shirley's Bay. For information call (613)728-0695, or write 73
Irving Place, Ottawa.
The Nature Society of Vankleek Hill was formed in 1975. Its members
are mostly bird watchers intent on improving their skills. For
information call Bill Radix at (613)678-2631, or write 28 Jay St.,
Vankleek Hill Ont. K0B 1R0.
Provincial and National Organizations
Naturalists' clubs are usually local in nature, and designed to draw
people of like minds together. Our organizations which have a larger
geographic reach usually exist to further a philosophy, the
Those who promote wildlife management assume at heart that we know
more than nature. Organizations with "wildlife" in their
title mostly attend to the prosperity of individual species perceived
at the moment to be of utility to humans. (This is an easy concept to
put across. Just define 'conservation' as 'use', and anything becomes
Organizations with "nature" in their title generally work to
preserve entire environments, so that relationships unperceived by us
will be maintained. They do not just wish to preserve rare species,
they wish to prevent species from becoming rare in the first place.
There are three whose geographical interest includes the Valley.
The Federation of Ontario Naturalists mobilizes action under the
slogan "Nature, Pass it On", and adds "we can leave no
greater legacy than a healthy and varied countryside". It
produces the quarterly magazine Seasons. For information write 355
Lesmill Rd., Don Mills, Ont. M3B 2W8.
The Canadian Nature Federation exists for "the promotion of the
understanding, awareness, and enjoyment of nature, and the
conservation of the natural environment so that the integrity of
natural systems is maintained". It produces the beautiful
magazine Nature Canada. For information call (613)238-6154, or write
453 Sussex Dr., Ottawa K1N 9Z9.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada, 794A Broadview Ave., Toronto M4K
2P7, exists "to acquire essential environmental lands in this
generation which, if lost, will be lost forever". It uses
government grants and matching funds to great advantage, often
quadrupling your donations en route to a land purchase. The land--260
parcels totalling 22,000 hectares to date--is put under suitable
government conservation authorities with use or management
agreements. If you want to `do something' right now, send them a
The National Museum of Natural Sciences
The displays of the Museum are located in the gothic Victoria
Memorial building, on McLeod Street between Elgin and O'Connor, in
Ottawa. Built in 1926 for the founding of The National Museum of
Canada, it originally housed the National Art Gallery in the east
wing. The present Salon was a library, and the top two floors housed
the staff of the Geological Survey, with room left over for some
offices used by the Department of Mines. Now, it is devoted solely to
the natural sciences.
The building is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Mondays when it is
For bird watchers, the second floor is the first stop, with its
dioramas of birds, habitat by habitat. It's a superb place to
introduce your young children to birds. On the floor below, the
memorable Dinosaur Court displays the assembled bones of several
cousins to our birds, accompanied by living plants similar to those
in Canada 75 million years ago, when most of the specimens lived. Be
sure to pick up the current sheet of special programs and activities;
many will involve bird subjects.
If you are interested in drawing or painting birds, it is possible to
obtain some mounted birds on loan, through the School Loans Program.
Books on Birds
There are many books published on birds, far too many to list in a
book this size. The following is a small selection, chosen in
mid-1985 to help you to start to learn more about birds which occur
in the Valley. Most can be found at public libraries. (This section
is badly out of date.)
The listing is sorted by topics. The topics are in alphabetical
order. Within each topic, books are arranged alphabetically by first
author. There is overlap between some topics. Check related topic
headings, since each book is listed only once.
- Art Books
- H.B. Barrett, The 19th-century journals & paintings of William
Pope, 1976. Pope was probably Canada's first wildlife painter. His
pen technique is excellent.
- Robert Bateman, The Art of Robert Bateman, 1981. The World of
Robert Bateman, 1985. Many paintings of birds (and mammals) as part
- J.A. Kraulis, ed., The Art of Canadian Nature Photography, 1980.
A sampler of many modern Canadian photographers' best work.
- Glen Loates, Birds of North America, 1979. A Brush with Life,
1984. My favourite drawings of birds.
- Gary Low & William Mansell, North American Birds of Prey, 1980.
North American Marsh Birds, 1983.
- John V. Dennis, A Complete Guide to Bird Feeding, 1983.
Excellent for bird feeding and houses.
- Clive Dobson, Feeding Wild Birds in Winter, 1981. The best for
bird feeding in Canadian winters.
- Michael McKinley, How to Attract Birds, 1983. Recommended for
bird feeding and houses.
- Alan Pistorius, The Country Journal Book of Birding and Bird
Attracting, 1981. A literate guide to many aspects of bird
- Walter E. Schultz, How to Attract, House and Feed Birds, 1974.
Inexpensive and comprehensive.
- Elliott McClure, Bird Banding, 1984. Conservative, even old-fashioned,
deals with the entire world, but the only book available.
- John V. Dennis, Beyond the Bird Feeder: The Habits and Behaviour
of Feeding Station Birds, 1981.
- Chris Mead, Bird Migration, 1983. Good, but technical and mostly
- Candace Savage, The Wonder of Canadian Birds, 1985. Covers 55
species with beautiful photos, readable text, many intriguing facts,
and a huge bibliography.
- Donald & Lillian Stokes, A Guide to Bird Behaviour. Vol. 1,
1979. Illustrated by J. Fenwick Lansdowne. Vol. 2, 1983. A unique
classification of bird `body language', easy to understand and apply
around the home and in the wild. Highly recommended.
- Bird watching
- Chuck Bernstein, The Joy of Birding: A Guide to Better Bird
- George H. Harrison, The Backyard Bird Watcher, 1979. Excellent.
- Stephen W. Kress, Audubon Society Handbook for Birders, 1981.
- Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, The Lovely and the Wild, 1968. This
is a book on how to really watch birds, not just count them.
- Thomas McElroy Jr., The Habitat Guide to Birding, 1974. A
different approach from most. Worthwhile.
- Roger F. Pasquier, Watching Birds: An Introduction to
Ornithology, 1977. A good general introduction to birding.
- Olin Pettingill Jr., Ornithology in Laboratory and Field, 1985.
Technical, but sound and clear.
- Children's Books
- Tom McGowen, Album of Birds, 1982.
- Katherine McKeever, Granny's Gang, 1984. Life in a refuge for
injured owls. Delightful.
- Roger Tory Peterson, Young Reader's Library: The Birds, 1979.
- Trudy & Jim Rising, Canadian Songbirds and Their Ways, 1982. The
best general introduction.
- Herbert S. Zim & Ira N. Gabrielson, A Guide to the Most Familiar
American Birds, 1956.
- Jim Arnosky, Drawing from Nature, 1982. Good to get a beginner
- Richard LeMaster, Waterfowl, Artists Guide to Anatomy, Attitude
and Colour, 1983. Especially good for carving.
- Claire Walker Leslie, Nature Drawing--A Tool for Learning, 1980.
Good exposition of techniques.
- Eggs and Nests
- Colin Harrison, A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings
of North American Birds, 1978.
- Hal H. Harrison, A Field Guide to Birds' Nests of the Eastern
United States, 1975.
- Field Guides
- P.J. Grant, Gulls: A Guide to Identification, 1982. When you
want to recognize the subtle distinctions between the 14 species of
gulls that have occurred in the Valley, study this book.
- Peter Harrison, Seabirds: An Identification Guide, 1983. The
definitive birders' guide to seabirds. Fabulous plumage details.
- Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds East of the
Rockies, 1980. The overwhelming recommendation for the general guide
for beginners. Easy to understand and use, compact.
- A.J. Prater, J.H. Marchant & J. Vuorinen, Guide to the
Identification and Ageing of Holarctic Waders, 1977. For the advanced
- C.S. Robbins, Birds of North America, 1983. Still used by many
- Shirley L. Scott, ed., Field Guide to the Birds of North
America, 1983. The "National Geographic Guide". Despite
uneven quality of the illustrations, the best general guide for
advanced birders. It is heavy though, and doesn't stand up very well
to field punishment.
- National Audubon Society, American Birds. Held at the libraries
of Parks Canada (10 Wellington St., Hull) and National Museums (2379
- Gerry Bennett, Birdfinding in Canada. The listers' special.
Subscriptions from Box 519, Kleinburg Ont J0J 1C0.
- Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Birds. Subscriptions from
Box 1204 Station B, Burlington Ont L7P 3S9.
- Isidor Jeklin & Donald Waite, The Art of Photographing North
American Birds, 1984. Highly recommended.
- D.J. Borror & W.W.H. Gunn, Sounds of Nature series, especially
"Warblers", "Finches" and "Thrushes, Wrens and
- F.M. Brigham, Songs of the Seasons, 1979, Pelee Spring, 1981,
Algonquin Park, 1982.
- Arthur Cleveland Bent, Life Histories of North American Birds.
The dates shown are of the original publication; all were reprinted
at various times. Still a unique source of detailed information on
virtually every subspecies of North American bird. Marsh Birds, 1926.
Shore Birds, 2 vol., 1927 & 1929. Gallinaceous Birds, 1932. Birds of
Prey, 2 vol., 1937 & 1938. Woodpeckers, 1939. Nuthatches, Wrens,
Thrashers, 1948. Thrushes, Kinglets, 1949. Wagtails, Shrikes, Vireos,
1950. Wood Warblers, 1953. Blackbirds, Orioles, Tanagers.
- Oliver L. Austin, Families of Birds, 1985. Elementary, but
- Oliver L. Austin, Birds of the World, 1962. A good choice, many
- John Farrand, ed., The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding,
1983, 3 vol. Many helpful field details for the advanced birder.
- W. Earl Godfrey, The Birds of Canada, 1966, 1986. The detailed
listing of bird distribution and habitats.
- Mae Hickman & Maxine Guy, Care of the Wild Feathered and Furred,
1973. I really don't recommend adopting wild creatures, but if you
must, this book is the best manual on the subject.
- Doug Sadler, Our Heritage of Birds: Peterborough County, 1983. A
good annotated checklist of an area similar to the Valley.
- John K. Terres, The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North
American Birds, 1980. Encyclopaedia tend to be expensive and loaded
with references unavailable to the average person. If you do feel the
need for one, this seems the best in print. (A public library is
usually a better source of information.)
- Site Guides
- J.C. Findlay, ed., A Bird-Finding Guide to Canada, 1984.
- Clive E. Goodwin, A Bird-Finding Guide to Ontario, 1982.
- Specific Families
- Frank C. Bellrose, Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America,
1980. Originally by F.H. Kortwright. Very useful. All plumages,
behaviour, life histories.
- Frank M. Chapman, The Warblers of North America, 1979. A reprint
of part of the work of one of the great pre-Peterson field-guide
- André P. Dion, The Return of the Bluebird, 1981. The poetry of
- A.J. Gaston, Guide to the Seabirds of Eastern Canada, 1984.
Excellent illustrations by Ian Jones of Ottawa.
- Hal H. Harrison, Wood Warblers' World, 1984. Bent's Warblers is
better if you can get it.
- Donald S. Heinzelman, Guide to Owl Watching in North America,
- Paul A. Johnsgard, Song of the North Wind--Snow Geese, 1974.
Well written, includes native legends and attitudes to snow geese.
- Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, Mar: A Glimpse into the Natural
Life of a Bird, 1976. A sensitive and thorough field study of a
- Robert W. Nero, The Great Gray Owl, 1980. Stunning photographs
complement a scholarly but easy-to-read text.
- Robert W. Nero, Redwings, 1984. Recommended.
- J.L. Wade, What You Should Know About the Purple Martin, 1966.
Unique insight into sociology (of people) as it relates to birds.
- Out-of-Print Books worth looking for
- Arthur Cleveland Bent, Life Histories of North American Birds.
These are the ones that are now out of print: Diving Birds, 1919.
Gulls, Terns, 1921. Petrels, Pelicans, 1922. Wild Fowl, 2 vol., 1923
& 1925. Cuckoos, Goatsuckers, Hummingbirds, 1940. Flycatchers, Larks,
Swallows, 1942. Jays, Crows, Titmice, 1946. Cardinals, Grosbeaks,
Buntings, Towhees, Finches, Sparrows, 3 vol.
- Frank Chapman, Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America, many
editions and reprints 1895-1966. To Taverner it was
Detailed synopsis of orders and suborders of birds, and extensive
keys to separate species.
- Stephen Dalton, The Miracle of Flight, 1977. A clear
introduction to the aerodynamics of bird (and insect) flight.
Illustrated with many excellent photographs of flying birds and
- John Gooders, The Great Book of Birds, 1975. My favourite for
birds of the world. Many colour photographs.
- H. Roy Ivor, I Live with Birds, 1967. An account by a world-
renowned Canadian ornithologist of the behaviour of tamed native
- J.F. Lansdowne, J.A. Livingston, Birds of the Northern Forest,
1966. Birds of the Eastern Forest, 2 vol. 1968 & 1970. Superb
- Malcolm Macdonald, The Birds of Brewery Creek, 1947. A year's
observations of 160 species on a few acres of land and stream on the
Hull waterfront. A great little book.
- Peter Matthiessen, The Windbirds, 1973. Life history and actions
of shorebirds. Nice reading, many useful field tips.
- National Geographic, Song and Garden Birds; Water, Prey and Game
Birds. Still the favourite general bird guide of many.
- Margaret Morse Nice, The Watcher at the Nest, 1939, reprint
1967. A classic study of song sparrow nesting.
- Alexander Sprunt Jr., North American Birds of Prey, 1955.
- P.A. Taverner, Birds of Eastern Canada, 1919, Coles reprint
1974. A classic in its field, and a fascinating insight into what was
considered to be important about birds 60 years ago. Also, Birds of
- R.C. Tozer & J.M. Richards, Birds of the Oshawa-Lake Scugog
Region, 1974. An excellent presentation of bird habitats and a good
- J.C. Welty, The Life of Birds, 1962, 1975. A good general
textbook of ornithology.