Birds of Berkeley

Birds of Berkeley
Hardcover, 5.5 x 8.5, with 25 full-color illustrations, 80 pages.
ISBN: 9781597144070.

By Oliver James

This charming, full-color field guide to 25 birds easily found in Berkeley proves that even the city’s avian residents are a little quirky. Meticulously detailed illustrations capture each bird’s distinctive physicality and temperament. A Burrowing Owl faces you in a full-on head shot, perhaps having just raised its raspy, chattering alarm call as you trespass on its last remaining Bay Area foothold at the Marina. The Anna’s Hummingbird gives you a coy backward glance to assess if you’ve properly admired its flashy throat feathers, maybe having just performed its signature J-shaped courtship dive. Even in composition, each bird is strikingly individual, whether depicted in mid-dive or creeping into frame. While descriptions of identification and vocalizations are straightforward, author-illustrator Oliver James takes a delightfully creative approach to his write-ups of each species. He invites you to imagine that a Cooper’s Hawk, for example, is Steve McQueen in a ’68 Mustang, and you, “a pigeon in a rental car with a poor turning radius,” are fleeing through traffic: “It’s all over in a matter of seconds.” A joy to read and pore over, Birds of Berkeleywill enchant readers far beyond the city limits with its findings gleaned from painstaking and patient wildlife observation.


“Birds of Berkeley is more than an identification guide. It takes us beyond the who's who to why we care. Learn how to think about birds in a way that will deepen your love of feathered things. This book combines scientific research, local insights, humor, and beautiful and accurate artwork. Whether you are an experienced birder or just learning natural history, this book will deepen your sense of place and open insights to beauty, wonder, and connection to the natural world.” John Muir Laws, author of The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
“A playful, illustrated guide to our avian neighbors.” Berkeleyside
"Well-wrought species profiles are coupled with Mr. James’ absolutely brilliant colored pencil illustrations that at times are difficult to distinguish from photograph (indeed, he can render his subjects more effectively with his pencils that I generally can with a camera). However it’s not only the technical accuracy of his illustrations that make them so remarkable [...] it is the way he presents them that conveys the more important lessons to both interested bird watchers as well as to any aspiring illustrators studying the book for the improvement of their own craft. [...] Given these qualities, Birds of Berkeley is as much a reference guide as it is a work of both literary and visual art." Johannes E. Riutta, The Well-read Naturalist
“Imagine a Berkeley boy-hatchling, raised by birds, grows up to write about his favorite feathered friends in the neighborhood. That's pretty much the essence of this charming volume by local Oliver James.” Cindy Margulis, executive director, Golden Gate Audubon Society
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Category Nature

About the Author

Oliver James

Oliver James

Oliver James was born in Berkeley in 1991. He started watching birds in his backyard on Colusa Avenue at age five and never turned back. Since then, he has competed in national birding tournaments, worked as a birding tour guide, and joined ornithological research teams from Peru to Alaska. He graduated from Berkeley High School in 2009 and Wesleyan University in 2014, and in 2021 he received master’s degrees from the Energy and Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. James is also the author of A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan (Wesleyan University Press, 2014).

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


P.O. Box 9145Berkeley, CA 94709(510) 549-3564

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