Ornithologist Noah Strycker Introduces Readers to New Feathered Friends in ‘National Geographic Birding Basics’ [REVIEW]

Northern Saw-whet Owl at Malheur Headquarters, Harney County, 12 October 2003
Northern Saw-whet Owl at Malheur Headquarters, Harney County, 12 October 2003 (Photo by Noah Strycker, Facebook)

I’ve always loved birds. Living in Southern California and coastal Massachusetts, I enjoyed watching big white sea birds like gulls and albatrosses soar overhead anytime we went to the beach. Later, when we relocated to Arkansas, I marveled at the huge blue jays that would dive bomb our cats and dogs and send them scurrying for cover. In New York City, sparrows built a nest on my apartment’s windowsill, and I checked every day to see if their tiny eggs had hatched. And then in Ohio, when we lived in our old farmhouse and owned some land, we watched all kinds of birds make their homes in the trees surrounding our property.

The point is, no matter where we live, birds surround us (although thankfully not in the eerie way Alfred Hitchcock depicted in his classic film The Birds). Even in the most urban areas, these airborne creatures are our constant connection to nature. This is a lesson ornithologist Noah Strycker learned early on in fifth grade when his teacher mounted a bird feeder to the classroom window. The birds he saw sparked his imagination and began a lifelong love affair with his feathered neighbors, and his fascination with them has given him a career and led him around the world. Now, in National Geographic Birding Basics, he shows us how all of us, regardless of where we may live, can become birding enthusiasts too.

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National Geographic’s ‘Stargazer’s Atlas’ Encourages Us to Look Up and Learn [REVIEW]

Stargazers
Imagine what you can discover when you take the time to look up! (Photo by Yuting Gao on Pexels.com)

When I was a boy, my grandfather gave me my very first book about constellations. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the heavens and love nights when the sky is black as pitch and the stars look close enough to touch. It’s such a marvel to me to think that we are looking up at things so far away, no man has ever been there. At least not yet. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get familiar with them. To do that, you simply have to open National Geographic’s dazzling new volume, the Stargazer’s Atlas. Even if you haven’t spent your nights looking up in the past, you will after you read this beautiful guide to the night sky.

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Julia Brewer Daily’s ‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ Is an Unexpected Delight [REVIEW]

(Photo courtesy Canva)

She may be a recent college graduate, but her life is about to change in ways even she did not expect. Soon, she is about to face off with the past on the sprawling Texas ranch where she grew up. As a result, she will come to know the land better than anyone in her family could have ever hoped. But at what cost? And will these ghosts of the past be her downfall or her salvation? Find out in Julia Brewer Daily’s The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch.

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Plan Your Next Vacation with National Geographic’s ‘100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime’ [REVIEW]

Mickey and Minnie Mouse await your visit.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse await your visit. (Photo by Bo shou on Pexels.com)

For many, their relationship with Disney may not extend beyond the beloved films and television shows Walt and company have created over the years. Then there are others whose childhoods included trips to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida. (I’m grateful to be among this group!) Still, if these vacations max out your Disney experiences, you have only scratched the tip of the iceberg of what the company now offers. Since Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt never stopped dreaming up new ways to entertain his guests. Now, in National Geographic’s 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime, Marcy Carriker Smothers shows us all the magic we’ve been missing, and I promise you’re going to want in on the action!

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Robin Bielman’s ‘The Matchmaker and the Cowboy’ Radiates Sunshine [REVIEW]

Couple holding hands
A couple finds love in a small town. (Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on Pexels.com)

Windsong may be the “happiest seaside and mountain town in California,” but even picturesque tourist destinations are populated by full time residents with real world problems. In Robin Bielman’s second installment of her enchanting series (after The Wedding Crasher and the Cowboy), a talented seamstress who is done with romance must share close quarters with the friendliest, most eligible cowboy in town. But are their newfound circumstances enough to draw them together? Or will past trauma keep them apart?

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