A Fascination for Feathers – A Review

The title, A Fascination for Feathers, provides a hint to the enthusiasm with which Connie Thompson conveys her interesting observations and love of the birds of the upper Michigan Peninsula (UP).

For several years, Connie wrote a weekly column about birds for The Evening News in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, where she shared information about the birds that visit her UP home in the woods and nearby environs. Many of her columns are included in the book, along with letters she received from readers about their own sightings. In one of her columns she wrote, “I hope to convey the sense of wonder that I continually feel when birding in our area.” She easily accomplishes that goal.

It was interesting for me to read about birds that I have seen only a few times – and some that I have not yet been fortunate to observe – the specialties of the UP. She is lucky to have Great Gray Owls visit her yard during many winters and conveys her intimate knowledge of their habits. Other ‘yard birds’ that she shares with her readers include Ruffled Grouse, Northern Shrike, Pileated Woodpecker, Gray Partridge, Pine Grosbeak and Northern Goshawk, in addition to the more common Black-capped Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

It was clear from the readers’ letters she included that her enthusiasm for birds is infectious and she has helped people to see and appreciate the birds that are all around them. Her book will continue this mission.

One of her reviewers summed it up nicely – it “reminds us that there is more to birding than checking off birds on a checklist.”

I would have liked to have seen an index, which would be helpful to a reader wanting to go back and re-read information about a particular species.

Fascination for Feathers is a ‘must read’ for anyone living or visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since that area is on my birding ‘bucket list’ I will keep use it as a reference tool when I am finally able to make the trip. In the meantime, I will share it with birding friends who hail from northern Michigan and nearby areas.

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