Check it out: Owl fans get a reference guide

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Review

"Owls of the World: A Photographic Fantasy"

By Heimo Mikkola; Firefly Books, 512 pages

Last week I mentioned how much I enjoy seeing deer visit our yard. This week I want to call out another wild creature that pays frequent visits to our country property even though I have never seen them: owls. I have been fascinated by these elusive nighttime dwellers ever since I was a little girl. Maybe it was seeing Woodsy Owl on Saturday morning television reminding kids and adults to "Give a hoot -- don't pollute!"; or maybe it was my Mom's own interest in owls and her subsequent collection of owl knick-knacks that prompted me to want to know more about these silent hunters of the night. Whatever the reason, my curiosity about owls was piqued at a very young age. Now, I finally live in an area where I can actually hear owls softly hooting to each other among the nearby evergreens. Priceless.

A new book about these birds of prey recently arrived at the library, and of course, I just had to check it out. "Owls of the World: A Photographic Fantasy" is one of the most comprehensive and beautifully photographed guides about owls I have ever seen. More than 200 species are included, accompanied by stunning color photographs and detailed information about each species, their call, food, hunting, habitat, status, distribution, and geographical variation. And each entry includes a small map showing the species primary geographical location.

This book covers the world, so you will learn not only about Northwest owls but also their far-flung cousins located in places such as Indonesia, Senegal, Colombia and Siberia.

From the common barn owl to the rarely heard, much less seen, Shelley's Eagle Owl of Africa, author Heimo Mikkola has obviously done extensive research to put together such a complete reference work of birds belonging to the order Strigiformes. While it has more than 500 pages of densely packed information, don't be put off by its size. I believe this book can be of interest to both hardcore owl enthusiasts and to those who just want to look at beautiful pictures. More than enough information is included to satisfy a person's deep curiosity. And it works equally well for the person who wants to randomly dip into its pages, enjoying a more serendipitous journey through the world of snowy, screech, spotted, pygmy and horned owls. So, two hoots up for this excellent book!

By the way, 2012 is nearly done, so Happy New Year to all. "Owl" be back in 2013 with more great books.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.