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Spring on the wing
Diana Churchill chronicles area birdwatching

Diana Churchill will sign copies of Birder's Eye View at Barnes & Noble in Oglethorpe Mall on April 20, from noon-2 p.m. Purchase Birder's Eye View at:

• Wild Birds Unlimited 8108 Abercorn St.

• E. Shaver, Bookseller 326 Bull St.

• Skidaway Island State Park 52 Diamond Causeway

• Tybee Island Lighthouse Gift Shop 30 Meddin Dr.

• Tybee Island Marine Science Center 1509 Strand St.

Spring has sprung, as they say, but the fun has just begun. From now through May, the skies of Savannah will bustle with over 200 species of birds winging their way through this very active migratory corridor.

"The very beginning of spring is when the migratory activity is really getting started," says local author and birdwatcher Diana Churchill. "This is the high-peak, frenzied activity time."

There's no more informative and entertaining way to enjoy the frenzy than in the pages of Churchill's book Birder's Eye View: Savannah & the Low Country. Known by many as an affable and active staffer at Wild Bird Unlimited at Abercorn Common, Churchill also has a following for her frequent birding columns, over 50 of which are assembled in Birder's Eye View.

Churchill has organized this full-color book by season and month. Each seasonal chapter begins with a comprehensive look at exactly what kind of birds to look for, and when.

The months unfold with individual columns; this month, for example, there's "The Return of the Mafia," about the invasion of the aggressive grackles; and "Tuning Your Ear to Birdsong," a guide to the soundtrack of spring.

"This is about the time of year when you'll start seeing the first ruby-throated hummingbirds at your feeder," Churchill explains. "You'll be seeing migratory swallowtail and Mississippi kites, and the little warblers that walk around in Forsyth Park."

Spring's interesting not only for migratory action, but for the activity of the local birds as well.

"The resident birds are now getting down to the business of nesting. The long-legged waterbirds are beginning to breed," Churchill says. "Also there are still some winter birds that haven't quite left the area yet — the swallows, the ducks."

In the column "What a Bird Guy Will Do to Get a Gal," Churchill explains:

"Male hummingbirds often become so focused on mating that they forget to eat properly. They can lose as much as twenty percent of their body weight and become ragged and weakened by summer's end. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds regularly live twenty-five percent longer than the hard-courting males."

It was always thus, in the bird world as well as with us humans.

Churchill explains how to bird-watch in your backyard, but an extended appendix also gives a guide to various bird-watching locales along the Georgia and South Carolina coast, from Cumberland Island in the south to just north of Charleston.

An accomplished photographer, Churchill has peppered the book with high-quality, full-color photos of most of the birds discussed in the text.