An Illustrated Bird Book That Captures Our Love for Them

June 10, 2023

A review by Aisha White

This Is a Book for People Who Love Birds by Danielle Belleny

Running Press, 2022

152 pages, hardcover

ABA Sales–Buteo Books 15282

Danielle Belleny’s charisma shines through in this lighthearted read that delivers substance as a beautifully illustrated page turner. About one-quarter of This Is a Book for People Who Love Birds acclimates you to the avian world, beginning with their origin and relationship to their large ancestors, the dinosaurs.

Belleny crafts a welcoming atmosphere for readers that introduces birding as an inclusive, accessible activity for all. She states, “If you enjoy the sights, sounds or vibes that birds provide, then you’re a birder!”

Belleny pulls back the veil on everything from birder traditions to the best observation spots. It may surprise some readers that cemeteries and landfills are prime birdwatching locations. An easy read, Belleny’s straightforward, approachable language is paired with the gorgeous illustrations by Stephanie Singleton. From the introduction through the species accounts, the book spans 152 pages.

Speaking of span, the sheer size of the California Condor’s wingspan, as described in the book, is impressive! Vivid similes and relatable references help progress Belleny’s storytelling. Standout references mentioned in the context of birds singing include those of musicians like Kenny G. and his record-breaking note played on a saxophone, which lasted for over 45 minutes. The talents of gospel legends, The Clark Sisters, also get a nod.

While readers will learn sad truths about species of birds that have become extinct or have declined in number, Belleny remains optimistic about the future. She finds hope in the potential of others, who care about animals and the world around them, to make choices and take actions that are for the overall good of living creatures across the planet.

The complicated beginnings of birding are also tackled in the book. The topic is handled in an easy-to-understand manner that acknowledges the problematic names of birds like Lewis’s Woodpecker, named after Meriwether Lewis. Known primarily for his expedition with William Clark, Lewis also enslaved human beings. Belleny directs attention to the movement #BirdNamesforBirds and its founders, Jordan Rutter and Gabriel Foley, who seek to educate the public on the harmful actions of some individuals whose names have been associated with birds.

The remaining portion of the book serves as an A to Z of some of North America’s birds. You’ll likely see familiar species and other species you may not have seen before enjoying Singleton’s art. Marking lifers that appear in Belleny’s book off your life list can quickly become a habit you find yourself daydreaming about. You might be planning to attend one of the many regional birding events the author names or simply enjoy the view from the backyard, as Belleny also suggests. In either case, the simple pleasure of identifying birds with the knowledge This Is a Book for People Who Love Birds equips you with will bring you joy.


As a child, Aisha White loved outdoor play. While searching for new subjects to photograph as an adult, her interest in birding was ignited. Now a Georgia-based writer working in content marketing, she enjoys listening to songs on repeat, watching documentaries, and spending time in nature.