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Birdscapes: A Pop-Up Celebration of Bird Songs in Stereo Sound Hardcover – August 20, 2008
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Get ready for the most groundbreaking entry to date in the bestselling Birdsongs series (more than 400,000 copies sold!). Birdscapes delivers an immersive birding experience never before seen--or heard--in any book. For the eyes: seven elaborately engineered full-color pop-ups portraying dozens of bird species in diverse North American habitats from the Alaskan Tundra to a Southeast swamp. For the ears: extended recordings of the birds' calls and songs in stereo from the collection of the world-renowned Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For the serious birder: scientifically accurate illustrations of the birds and moving text about their fragile ecosystems. This beautifully crafted volume is a visual and audio delight!
"Pop-up books aren't just for kids anymore! This multimedia experience transports you to seven natural habitats in North America and immerses you in the birds and their songs. --Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation, National Audubon Society
"Birdscapes is a delight for the eyes and the ears--a tour of North America's bird-rich ecosystems, rendered as seven lavishly detailed, three-dimensional landscapes, and brimming with choruses of authentic bird songs and calls." --Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and Of a Feather
An Interview with Miyoko Chu, Director of Communications at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Q: When did you first become interested in birds?
A: When I was 11, my father and I rescued some pigeons from a poultry truck in San Francisco's Chinatown. I spent a lot of time in the backyard coop, watching the pigeons as they courted and raised their young. It was amazing to realize all this drama was playing out with wild birds everywhere, too, and to have the opportunity to study it.
Q: What's your favorite bird song and why?
A: My favorite song is that of the Scott’s Oriole, featured in the desert scene of Birdscapes. Hearing that clear, bubbling melody in the desert is an unforgettable experience.
Q: What was the best thing about working on Birdscapes?
A: It was exciting to go from the ideas and bird lists for each soundscape to seeing and hearing this three-dimensional product as it emerged from the minds of the artists, editors, and sound engineers. It was incredible to see the artists' sketches transform into complex and ingenious pop-up scenes, and to experience how precise recordings for each bird were blended to evoke the soundscape.
Q: Have you visited all of the seven different bird habitats featured in Birdscapes?
A: Of the seven habitats, I'm most familiar with the desert, where I studied birds during 1995-2000, and the eastern deciduous forest, which is right outside my office window. I have visited the Great Plains and Pacific evergreen forests. I have not been to the Arctic, a southern swamp, or a seabird colony. In writing those scenes, I benefited from the insights of my colleague Gerrit Vyn, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s audio production engineer, who selected the recordings, including some that he had recorded on recent expeditions to these habitats.
Q: Which habitat in Birdscapes did you enjoy writing about the most and why?
A: Actually, there were two that I enjoyed the most--for completely opposite reasons! I loved writing about the desert because I had spent so much time there, and remembered the sights and sounds so vividly. And it was great fun to write about the seabird colony because that was something I had never experienced before—and I was completely surprised by what I learned. Whether an individual seabird's voice or thousands, the sounds are awe-inspiring, and the birds have such an interesting lifestyle as they all cram on to a bit of rock for the breeding season.
Q: Are you a daily birder or a weekend birder?
A: I'm an opportunistic birder! I'm always watching and listening for birds around my house and neighborhood. But in between work and spending time with my family, my focused birding these days happens irregularly, on the spur of the moment. My office at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology overlooks Sapsucker Woods, so I sometimes slip outside to look for birds after getting an email alert about a good migration day, or when I notice people outside my window pointing up at the trees.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for beginning birders?
A: Invest in a pair of binoculars and practice becoming comfortable with them. It will open up a whole new world, enabling you to see many more birds than you may have even realized were around you before. Spend time getting to know the different kinds of birds you see, the reasons for their behaviors, and the many kinds of sounds they use throughout the year.
Excerpts from Birdscapes
Click on each image below to see a larger view of the page.
More to Explore
Bird Songs From Around the World
The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Eastern and Central North America
The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, CANADA
Your children and others will love it; your cat will be intrigued and confused.
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I suppose all that sounds like a lot to hold against a book bought new, but I do not have any resentments at all, quite the contrary. I love this book and I recommend it with full stars. I cannot wait to show it to my friends to see if it captivates them as it does me.
A few things about the birds. The bird sounds overlap as they most likely would in nature if that piece of nature was densely populated with birds, so at first it is not perfectly clear who is making the noises, 1 then 2 then 3 and so on. The listener must pay close attention and discern differences in calls. On each pop-up double page scene is another page that describes the ecosystem depicted and then folds down to describe which birds are carrying on. On that inside of the ecosystem description flap there is a time-line with icons of the singing birds as they overlap on the recording measured in 5 second increments. The timeline helps the viewer match the sounds with icons of the same birds in the pop-up according to left:center:right (of the pop-up double page). It takes a few tries to get the hang of what is going on for one's eyes to flow from bird to bird within the pop-up while listening to their calls, once all the birds have been located and matched. By way of cross reference, a more thorough description of each bird in order of its song is located at the back pages of the book. Each bird is described in order and matched by number to a small illustration of the pop-up pages. So a little bit of cross-referencing is required, perhaps a good deal of cross-referencing for thorough study. Come on, what more could one ask?
You can shut off the sound with the press of a button, or restart the sound file at will. Say, for instance, you didn't quite catch that hummingbird, you can start the file over until you discern it within the overlapping calls.
This book is delightful and wonderful and very special indeed. I applaud the effort. You should buy this book right now, a bargain at twice the cost. And if your copy arrives less than perfect as mine did, well then just fix it and you will love it even more.
My favorite way to look at it is as a momentary diversion as I wander through the house. As I walk by, I stop a moment and just open it up to some random environment and listen to the birds. It's always a very soothing experience.
The book itself is amazing with realistic bird sounds and wonderful illustrations.