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Children's Nonfiction Birds

Backyard Birds

An Introduction

by (author) Robert Bateman

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Dec 2018
Recommended Age
8 to 12
Recommended Grade
3 to 7
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2018
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


"Of all wild creatures, birds are the most colorful and easiest to see. You don't need to travel to distant jungles or faraway islands. They live in our own backyards.... Birds are our neighbors. We should get to know them."
-- Robert Bateman

Internationally acclaimed wildlife artist and naturalist Robert Bateman has painted, sketched and enjoyed birds since he was a young boy. He shares his passion for birds and his unique talents as artist and storyteller in this informative introduction to birds for young readers and beginners at bird watching.

Backyard Birds abounds with Bateman's detailed sketches and full-color paintings of robins, chickadees, woodpeckers, blue jays, finches and many other familiar birds -- capturing their antics and beauty in a way that no photograph can.

The book includes brief facts about the different species, noted below, including their length, wingspan, weight, food, range, habitat and common calls. Bateman also provides his personal tips on identifying, feeding and finding birds.

The 36 bird families are:

  • Red-winged Blackbirds and American Crows
  • Baltimore Orioles and American Redstarts
  • Mallards and Canada Geese
  • Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers
  • Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls
  • Mourning Doves and Wild Turkeys
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds
  • Barn Swallows and Chimney Swifts
  • Hairy Woodpeckers and Downy Woodpeckers
  • Dark-eyed Juncos and White-breasted Nuthatches
  • American Robins and Bluebirds
  • Blue Jays and Gray Jays
  • Northern Cardinals and Cedar Waxwings
  • Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
  • American Goldfinches and House Finches
  • Sparrows: Song Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and House Sparrow.

Spreads on Migration; Attracting Birds to Your Backyard; The Cycle of Family Life; and Bird Senses (Eyes, Ears, Voice, Brain, Feathers) round out this beautiful book.

About the author

Canadian painter Robert Bateman has been featured in exhibits across the globe, opening a permanent exhibition at The Robert Bateman Centre, in Victoria, B.C., in 2013. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1984 and a Member of the Order of British Columbia in 2001. In 2013, he was awarded the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Gold Medal in recognition for his commitment to preserving the Canadian landscape. Bateman’s notable achievements include being named one of the twentieth century’s 100 Champions of Conservation by the U.S. National Audubon Society in 1998 and bestowed the Amnesty International Human Rights Defender Award in 2007. A beloved teacher, avid geographer, and renowned naturalist celebrated for his accessible realist style, Bateman is a Life Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. He is the bestselling author of fourteen books, including his memoir Life Sketches. He continues to paint and lives with his artist wife, Birgit, in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Visit for more information on Bateman and his art.

Robert Bateman's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Backyard Birds: An Introduction

“It started with a black-capped Chickadee.” So begins renowned wildlife artist and naturalist Robert Bateman’s introduction as he describes the moment when he first became intrigued with birds at the age of eight. His interest in birds and birdwatching has become a lifelong passion. Now Bateman is eager to share his knowledge about birds with young readers and beginners at birdwatching.

Robert Bateman, together with coauthor Ian Coutts, shares observations about the variety of birds found in Canada. Each double-page spread features a full-page painting of a bird in its familiar habitat as well as facts about size, range, habitat, food, voice, characteristics and identification tips. Also included are sections on the cycle of family life, migration, and attracting birds to one’s backyard. In the epilogue, readers are cautioned about factors which harm birds and are urged to be pro-active in protecting them and their natural environments.

Bateman’s and Coutts’s respect for birds and the natural world and, in turn, their readers, is evident by their well-written and informative text. This book would be a useful reference in elementary school libraries. Although an index and contents pages have been omitted, there is a useful glossary, recommended reading list and website included.

Bateman’s detailed sketches and colourful, realistic paintings make this book a pleasure to explore. His lifelike illustrations of familiar birds makes us look closely in wonder at their beauty. That which we assume as “commonplace” is enhanced by his artistry so that we can appreciate anew our avian friends’ marvelous complexity.

Robert Bateman writes, “Of all wild creatures, birds are the most colourful and easiest to see. You don’t need to travel to distant jungles or faraway islands. They live in our own backyards... Birds are our neighbours, We should get to know them.” Backyard Birds: An Introduction will certainly help readers to do just that!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2006. Vol.29 No. 2.

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