Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Review


The Prairie Naturalist 39(2): June 2007, pp 115-116


Copyright © 2007 The Great Plains Natural Science Society


Fifty Uncommon Birds of the Upper Midwest. Watercolors by Dana Gardner; text by Nancy Overcott. 2007. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, Iowa. 112 pages. $34.95 (cloth).

Nancy Overcott has written series of short essays of birds found in the Upper Midwest and assembled them in an easy-to-read book. As an ornithologist and avid birder in this region, I'll admit that I didn't know what to expect when I opened the cover-would the focus be on rarities, would there be an identification component, are there tips for finding each species, and at what audience was the book aimed? Ultimately, I enjoyed the personal touch to Overcott's story-telling and found this an entertaining read, although the content did not increase my understanding of the birds of this region. The book includes a short introduction followed by 50 essays, one per species (each nicely illustrated by Dana Gardner), and ends with a short list of supplemental references. The content of each species account varied, although most generally included information about seasonal occurrence, typical habitat(s) used, and a reference to their general range. I liked the personal story used to introduce most species as this gives the reader a better feel for the bird by knowing something about the encounter.