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Hummingbirds or Texas

By Charles J. Lohrmann

The state of Texas can lay claim to many records that start with "Most" or "Largest," and that includes its share of hummingbirds: 18 species of the diminutive but colorful birds are regular residents (at the book's press time, New Mexico and Arizona tied for second with 17 species, but Arizona added one since then). And in the case of hummingbirds, "colorful" applies not only to their typically brilliant plumage but also their outsized behavior: Almost in inverse proportion to their size, these tiny birds are feisty, often aggressive and fly incredibly fast (up to 55 mph).

Hummingbirds of Texas (Texas A&M University Press Nature Guide Series, 110 pages; $24.95, cloth) is a project born and raised with significant support from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Two of the three authors, Nongame Ornithologist Clifford E. Shackelford and Information Specialist C. Mark Klym, as well as the primary illustrator, Clemente Guzman, are TPWD employees. The third author, Madge M. Lindsay, is a former agency employee who helped develop the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the World Birding Center and the Great Texas Birding Classic and now is director of Audubon Mississippi.

The book this group (with the help of photographers Sid and Shirley Rucker) has assembled for Texas A&M University Press is comprehensive, useful and entertaining. Chapter 1 opens with a discussion of the Texas Hummingbird Roundup (coordinated by Klym), which began under the direction of Lindsay in 1994 as a citizen-science project of TPWD designed to gather comprehensive information about hummingbird sightings and behavior across the state. More than 4,000 volunteers have contributed to the program (some of their letters found their way into the book), and TPWD now manages an extensive database of hummingbird information.

More than a conventional field guide, Hummingbirds of Texas offers suggestions about designing a hummingbird garden to attract these birds and details about which hummingbird feeders work best to attract and sustain the enchanting creatures. While Guzman's illustrations offer beautiful images of these remarkable birds, the photographs offer rarely seen views of the birds in mid-flight and capture unique moments such as a stop-action glimpse of a hummingbird flying backwards. You'll even see a surprising photograph of a praying mantis stalking a hummingbird. (Yes, we learn in the book, a praying mantis is capable of killing and consuming a hummingbird.) Note that all royalties from the sale of this book will go to the TPWD Texas Hummingbird Roundup Visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more information.

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