Alright, enough already about the three books suggested here for holiday gift giving being for the birds.
While the birds of the feather that are the topics of the three books, it is unlikely they would roost together. “Turkey Men: Volume 1” and “Raptors: The Curious Nature of Diurnal Birds of Prey” could share the same bookshelf and “Percy the Victorious Vulture” is an ideal way to introduce preteens to the fascinating and often misunderstood world of vultures.
“Turkey Men: Volume 1,” by Thomas R. Pero, hardcover, 220 pages, Wind River Press, $49.95, www.wildriverpress.com
This book is for all turkey hunters, but especially for those who think of the first Sunday of December as the beginning of the countdown to spring gobbler season – it’s just 2½ months to Osceola season in Florida – rather than the last week of the firearms deer season in Pennsylvania.
Author Tom Pero makes no claims to be an accomplished turkey hunter, but he certainly knows how to tell the story of those who are and “Turkey Men: Volume 1” tells the stories of six hunters who have taken a spring gobbler in each of the 49 states that have a season, which the National Wild Turkey Federation dubbed the United States Super Slam in 2011. Yes, Hawaii has season, but Alaska is out in the cold and the accounts of more hunters will be available next spring with the publication of “Turkey Men: Volume 2.”
Two of the six hunters featured in the book are Pennsylvania resident Tony Hudak of Noxen and Pennsylvania native Rob Keck, who now resides in South Carolina. Two others are from Florida and one each from Texas and Louisiana.
“Their stories are remarkable,” Pero said. “Only a handful of hunters have ever achieved this feat.
“It took them years to accomplish. I did the calculation and discovered that 235 times as many mountain climbers have successfully reached the top of Everest.”
Long interviews and impressive photos of the hunters document their devoted and adventurous quest for the USSS. Restoration efforts of the NWTF are mentioned throughout the book, without which the USSS would not be possible.
“Raptors: The Curious Nature of Diurnal Birds of Prey” by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary ornithologist Dr. Keith Bildstein, hardcover, 336 pages, Cornell University Press, $35, www.hawkmountain.org/store/products
Everyone knows about raptors: They’re the reason for so few rabbits and pheasants. Well, forget that bad rap that has been around since the days bounties were paid for killing these magnificent kings of the sky.
Raptors play an important and necessary role in the balance of nature and Keith Bildstein has watched and studied raptors on five continents and perhaps no one else is more qualified to tell the story of their critical importance as ecological entities and inspirational tokens across natural and human-dominated landscapes. His book offers a comprehensive and accessible account of raptors, including their evolutionary history, their relationships to other groups of birds, their sensory abilities, their general natural history, their breeding ecology and feeding behavior and threats to their survival in a human-dominated world.
While full of scientific and biological information, this is a highly readable book that is a page-turner. It is a must-read for naturalists, biologists, birders, hawk watchers, science educators, schoolchildren and the general public to understand and appreciate these birds and in so doing better protect them.
“Percy the Victorious Vulture,” by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Director of Education Erin Brown and staff, soft cover, 28 pages, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, $5, www.hawkmountain.org/store/products
This book will hold the interest of youngsters with its full-color drawings and fascinate them when they read the true story of “Percy,” a flightless black vulture. While the story is told in an entertaining style, it also educates young readers about vulture behavior, raptor conservation and citizen science.
“Percy’s story is one of perseverance and survival, while offering a wholesome lesson about wildlife and vultures specifically,” Brown said. “This book will spark an interest in animal and conservation science in children everywhere. It will delight the visual senses of young children as they learn about black vultures and also teach them about the importance of perseverance.”
(Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association)