Birds are Disappearing, How Can You Help?

Artwork from Saving Kate's Flowers, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein
Artwork from Saving Kate’s Flowers, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

A recent study revealed that one-in-three birds have vanished since 1970, meaning that in North American, we have 3 billion fewer birds today. This study was a major undertaking by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and couldn’t have been done without the work of citizen scientists.

The numbers are most grim for grassland birds losing 50% of their population, shorebirds are down 37%, and western forest birds have lost 29% of their population. These results show that birds are not adapting well as buildings go up in place of forests and grasslands.

Can you imagine opening your window and not hearing the song of a sparrow ever again? Or seeing a red-winged blackbird on the side of the highway? These common birds are some of the species that have lost a large portion of its population.

Image from Animal Helpers: Raptor Centers by Jennifer Keats Curtis
Image from Animal Helpers: Raptor Centers by Jennifer Keats Curtis

There are successes in this story, conservation efforts to save waterfowl, raptors, and turkeys show an increase in populations. Special interest groups and governments have invested in conservation. High-rise buildings give peregrine falcons a nest box and a camera so people can check in on their favorite local raptor. Conservation groups give a bird’s eye view into an eagle nest or a duck pond, and this exposure helps create public awareness.

What else can we do?

Cut down on reflective windows. Nearly 1 billion birds die each year by mistaking reflections for flying space and crash into windows.

People can also keep their purrfect bird hunters inside to chase faux birds. Cats are estimated to kill 2.6 billion birds a year!

Give birds a place to rest or nest by planting native flowers and trees. Flower beds spruce up a yard and give birds a place to rest safely during long flights.

A few things that are not only good for birds, but good for your health too – reduce pesticides, plastics, and drink shade-grown coffee.

And last but not least, join the bird count and become a citizen scientist! Observations are a very important part of science. Join the effort to accurately count the population and give scientists a much better understanding of where conservation efforts are needed. Here are some projects to check out: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/citizen-science-be-part-of-something-bigger.

Share citizen science with your kids, here are two books that show how fun joining a project can be!

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story

Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.


Moonlight Crab Count

Even kids can get involved in science! Ecologist Dr. Neeti Bathala and Jennifer Keats Curtis collaborate to bring us the story of these adventurous citizen scientists. Leena and her mom volunteer each summer to count the horseshoe crabs that visit their beach. With their dog Bobie at their sides, the duo spends a night on the shore surveying horseshoe crabs who have come to mate and lay eggs. Readers will learn valuable facts about these ancient animals and how they can get involved in the effort to conserve horseshoe crabs.


And, learn a litte about birds in these books!

The Best Nest

Long ago, when the world was young, the magpies’ nests were the envy of all other birds. To help the other birds, Maggie Magpie patiently explained how to build a nest. But some birds were impatient and flew off without listening to all the directions, which is why, to this day, birds’ nests come in all different shapes and sizes. This clever retelling of an old English folktale teaches the importance of careful listening.


Whistling Wings

Can a swan survive without winter migration? Marcel, a young tundra swan, is tired from the first half of a winter migration. One thousand miles is a long way to fly—too long for Marcel, so he hides in the rushes to stay behind while his parents and the flock continue south. But with the lake nearly frozen over, he soon realizes that he is not cut out for life on ice. Other animals offer advice about how to survive the winter, but their ways of living aren’t right for the swan. Hungry and scared, he falls asleep – only to be awakened by a big surprise!


Otis the Owl

In beautifully detailed photographs, Mary Holland captures the first few months of a baby barred owl’s life. The huge eyes and fluffy feathers will steal the hearts of readers as they learn how barred owl parents ready their young owlets for the big world outside the nest. Follow along as Otis learns to eat, fights with his sister, and prepares for flight.


Find these titles and many more bird books on arbordalepublishing.com. You can also request them from your favorite library or bookstore!

Halloween Reading List Part 2

We couldn’t get enough Halloween fun with just animal books, so here is another reading list to get you thinking…Do you have your costume for trick or treat yet? Well, we have thought quite a bit about our costumes and decided to take inspiration from a few Arbordale books. Here is another reading list for the season that might inspire a costume or two!

Ghosts have been part of Halloween traditions from the very beginning. Although we don’t know much about the Irish traditions of Samhain, we know it was a harvest festival where the spirit world would join the real world where ghosts and faeries walked among the living. This event is the origin of today’s Halloween celebrations. At first, the bedsheet ghost became a way to distinguish spirits in the theatre then later taken to the streets for trickery. The Ghost of Donley Farm has a feathery shroud, but his mystique is equally intriguing to Rebecca. 

The Ghost of Donely Farm

The Ghost of Donley Farm
Rebecca, the red-tailed hawk, is not afraid of ghosts! One night, she bravely ventures into the barn to meet the famous ghost of Donley Farm. But when she finally meets him, Rebecca is surprised to discover that this “ghost” is much more familiar than she’d expected.  Join Rebecca as she stays up late to talk with her new friend and find out what they have in common and how they are different.

Halloween is a magical night, but why? Again, we go back to Ireland and the Druids of the Samhain festival. Druids were known to turn those that did bad deeds into black cats. The connection between magical powers and All Hallows Eve began. Today, on Halloween night, you might see young witches and wizards stopping door to door for candy; but, what about someone that only uses illusion to create magic? Get your top hat, maybe a rabbit, and study some tricks in Magnetic Magic!  

Magnetic Magic

Magnetic Magic
Dena loves using magnets to perform magic tricks for the kids at the pool. When Enrique arrives in town, he doesn’t like that Dena is fooling the others. He gives her a century-old treasure map and Dena uses her compass and tools to plot the location of the treasure. To her surprise, the treasure is not where it should be! What could cause her compass to lead her off course? When she discovers the answer, will Dena keep fooling the other kids with magic tricks or will she help them learn about magnetism and the earth’s shifting magnetic poles?

While many believe that wolves howl at the moon, they are actually communicating with each other. But the full-moon turns the mythical werewolf from its human shape into an evil wolf-like creature at its appearance. References to the werewolf, or lycanthrope, span hundreds of years but were prominent in the middle ages. Halloween movies often include the shapeshifting creature among the monsters. Maybe readers of One Wolf Howls might consider either the real or mythical animal as a Halloween costume.

One Wolf Howls
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a wolf? What would you do in the cold winter months? Where would you sleep? What would you eat? Spend a year in the world of wolves in One Wolf Howls. This adventurous children’s book uses the months of the year and the numbers 1 through 12 to introduce children to the behavior of wolves in natural settings. The lively, realistic illustrations of Susan Detwiler complement the rhyming text and bring each month to life. From January to December, howl, frolic, and dance, while learning important lessons page-by-page! The “For Creative Minds” learning section includes a “Wolf Communications Matching” and “Wolf Calendar” activity.

Midnight is the hour of the supernatural. There are references to spells being cast at midnight, and at this hour on a full moon, madness sets in. Throughout ancient history, madness has been depicted in some very disturbing ways, but we have a much more fun way to spend the evening, an animal basketball game!

Midnight Madness at the Zoo

Midnight Madness at the Zoo
The bustle of the crowd is waning and the zoo is quieting for the night. The polar bear picks up the ball and dribbles onto the court; the nightly game begins. A frog jumps up to play one-on-one and then a penguin waddles in to join the team. Count along as the game grows with the addition of each new animal and the field of players builds to ten. Three zebras serve as referees and keep the clock, because this game must be over before the zookeeper makes her rounds.

No matter your Halloween costume, we hope you have had as much fun with this reading list as we have had making it. To learn more about each book, go to arbordalepublishing.com or click on the title.

Reading on a Theme: Halloween

Here come the ghosts and goblins, Skulls and sarcophaguses, and our favorite – bats and cats! Amongst the falling leaves and decorative pumpkins, these two creatures enjoy the low light of twilight to make nightly appearances. So today we give you a booklist, and a little background, on how some of these spooky beings became symbols of Halloween.

While some believe bats fluttering around bonfires during ancient rituals warding off evil spirits is the first spooky association with the winged mammals, Braham Stoker is really credited with fortifying the association. His shapeshifting character Dracula flying into the night ready to drink blood just like the vampire bats of South America was enough to spark fear into many readers.

Today we know a bit more about science than the 17th-century explorers and here are a few books that show the softer side of bats.


Red bats can hibernate or migrate to warmer regions during the winter. Should this solitary little bat stay or should she go? That’s the question the little red bat ponders as the leaves fall and the nights get colder! The squirrel tells her to stay. But what about the dangerous creatures that hunt red bats in winter? The sparrow urges her to go. But where? Carole Gerber takes young readers on an educational journey through one bat’s seasonal dilemma in Little Red Bat. The For Creative Minds educational section includes: Match the Bat Adaptation, Bat Fun Facts, How Animals Deal with Seasonal Changes, Red Bats and Seasonal Change, and Bat Life Cycle Sequencing Activity.


Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave. While practicing flapping his wings one night, he falls and Pluribus Packrat rescues him. They then explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave where they meet amazing animals—animals that don’t need eyes to see or colors to hide from enemies. Baby Bat learns how important bats are to the cave habitat and how other cave-living critters rely on bats for food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?


Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm. – Read Bat Count during October as Arbordale’s Free ebook of the month!


Cats have long been human companions, and the Egyptians memorialized their cats as mummies – but we will get to them later. As the Christian religion spread throughout Europe, people began associating the dark cat’s nocturnal hunting with the devil. Starting in the 1500’s witchcraft and the black cat became forever connected in people’s minds.

While cats are aloof, skilled hunters, and happy to prowl at night, homes around the world welcome cuddly kitties without being accused of witchcraft these days. However, statistics show black cats are less likely to be adopted than light-colored counterparts. Learn about the similarities and differences of cats domestic and wild in these books:


Big cats are fierce predators that roam the world from the mountains to the deserts. How are these wild cats that hunt for their food the same as pet cats that might chase a mouse or ball of yarn? How are they different? Children learn the days of the week as they travel to seven different world habitats to meet the big cats, and then back home to compare and contrast the domestic cat’s behavior to that of its relative.


Colo the cougar and her friend Ruff, the bobcat, jump and play together, but Ruff can’t jump as far as Colo. Ruff doesn’t have a long, swishy tail like Colo does, to provide balance on long leaps. Ruff’s tail is much shorter. He is sure that something is wrong with him. Sympathetic, Colo suggests they find a tail that Ruff would like better, so off they go. As the two kittens explore the variety of tails worn by other animals, they make the best discovery of all.


Finally, our newest Halloween read is also the newest symbol of the holiday. Over the years, people have developed a very different relationship with death than perhaps some ancient cultures. The Egyptians believed that the spirit would return to the body, so they were very careful in preserving that body for this event. There are several mentions of mummies in literature, but today’s evil villains wrapped in bandages are largely a Hollywood invention.

Scientists are learning so much about past lives from mummies found in tombs and in nature. Don’t worry, they are not coming back to life; technology is key in discovering the past. Learn more in Rhonda Lucas Donald’s latest title!   


If a mummy could talk, what would it say? Of course, mummies can’t talk. But with modern scientific tools, we can still discover what a mummy has to tell us. Read the stories of mummified Egyptian pharaohs and priestesses, baby elephants, pampered pets, and even a prehistoric bison. Uncover clues to centuries-old murder mysteries and human sacrifices, and even find out what a person or animal had for their last meal! Information from real scientists explains how we know what we know about each mummy. So, what do these mummies have to say? Lots, it turns out!


That’s all for today’s Reading list, but you might find a few other ghostly tales on the Arbordale website!

Book Launch! The Forest in the Trees

We’re celebrating the release of The Forest in the Trees by Connie McLennan. This book takes readers high into the canopy of the world’s tallest trees, a forest where very few human eyes have spied the lush greenery and animal inhabitants that call the coast redwoods home.

Connie was inspired by botanist’s research. The scientists were able to climb the trees and explore the landscape to identify many different plants that thrive high amongst the clouds. Learning more about the discoveries is easy. In The Forest in the Trees, readers find a new plant or animal with the turn of a page!

Test your own skills at identifying trees and plants with our observation and identification guide:

About the Forest

A forest is an ecosystem. This ecosystem requires just the right soil for trees to secure their roots and grow tall trunks for the leaves that soak up the sunlight.

The plants and animals in this ecosystem need the trees, just as the trees need them to thrive. One ecosystem is found on the ground where we can walk around and marvel at the amazing size of the trees. The other is high in the sky, and only a select few botanists have laid eyes on this ecosystem.

So, what do botanists look for in this ecosystem?  Take this observation guide on your next walk through the forest and see if you can identify the trees and plants you find.

We’re giving away three copies of our new fall releases! Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Forest in the Trees and Animal SkinsWinners will be contacted on September 30th!

Lucky Number Seven

It’s a book launch for Mary Holland! This is the seventh launch for the Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series, and this season Holland is focused on the outer coverings of North American mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The skin is an important organ for all animals, including humans, but some of the featured animals use their skin to hide or warn predators. Many of the adaptations discussed in Animal Skins showcase this adaptation.

Here is a fun little experiment in animal pattern identification. Color the skins and identify the animal.

Learn more about how animals make their way in the world through an exploration of anatomy. Get the series

We’re giving away three copies of our new fall releases! Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Forest in the Trees and Animal Skins. Winners will be contacted on September 30th! 

Monkey Around Today

Happy September! We kick off this very busy month with a little fun from our favorite cousins, the primates. Here is a fun booklist for reading about a monkey with sticky fingers, one that plays basketball, and some very smart gorillas and orangutans.

Happy International Primate Day!

The Deductive Detective

Someone stole a cake from the cake contest—who could it be? Twelve animal bakers are potential suspects but Detective Duck uses his deductive reasoning skills to “quack† the case. After all, the thief left hairs behind so the thief wasn’t a bird. Follow along as he subtracts each suspect one at a time to reveal just who the culprit was. This clever story will have children of all ages giggling at the puns and the play on words.

Midnight Madness

The bustle of the crowd is waning and the zoo is quieting for the night. The polar bear picks up the ball and dribbles onto the court; the nightly game begins. A frog jumps up to play one-on-one and then a penguin waddles in to join the team. Count along as the game grows with the addition of each new animal and the field of players builds to ten. Three zebras serve as referees and keep the clock, because this game must be over before the zookeeper makes her rounds.

Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet

Go along on the exciting dream journey from morning to night, using hands and feet just like squirrels, monkeys, rats, spiders, frogs, penguins, elephants, lions, kangaroos, pandas, and eagles. Travel to the lush jungle, the African savannah, Australian outback, and to the frozen Antarctic. Finally, as the sun sets, snuggle beneath the covers and snooze, with recollections of animals at play, inspired by the imaginative illustrations of Sherry Rogers. After all, even the wild things need some time to rest after a day of fast-footed play! The “For Creative Minds” education section features a “Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet” matching activity.

Primate School

Gorillas using iPads, lemurs finger painting, squirrel monkeys popping bubbles . . . these primates are pretty smart! Could you make the grade in Primate School? Learn how diverse the primate family is, and some of the ways humans are teaching new skills to their primate cousins. Author Jennifer Keats Curtis is once again working with organizations across the country to share fun facts about primates through this photo journal.

‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day

This delightful adaptation of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, shares zoo keeper and animal preparations for the upcoming “Zoo Day”. But things aren’t going according to plan . . . The llamas won’t quit spitting, the giraffes are drooling, and the zebras aren’t happy at all with their stripes. Meanwhile, the zoo keepers are scurrying this way and that, cleaning up poop, ringing mealtime bells, and trying to get the animals bathed. Will “Zoo Day” go off without a hitch? The “For Creative Minds” educational section includes “Creative Sparks: imagine you’re a zoo keeper,” and “An Animal Adaptation Matching Activity.”

What’s New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure

Come along on an animal adding adventure. Add baby animals to the adults to see how many there are all together. And while you are at it, learn what some of the zoo animals eat or what the baby animals are called. Follow the lost red balloon as it soars through the zoo. At the end of the day, count up all the animals you have seen. The “For Creative Minds” educational section includes: How many animals do you see?, Tens make friends, Adding by columns, Fact families, Food for thought, Animal matching activity, and Animal classes.

Each titles is available in English and Spanish along with a selection of other languages, check these out in our incredible multilingual ebooks!

It’s almost time for Pencils and Books

August is here, and the first day of school is approaching fast! Some kids get very anxious about heading back to school others are excited to go to class for the first time; so, we asked authors and illustrators for tips to make the transition easy. Here’s what they had to say…

“The best way to get ready for school is to play school! Someone can be Teacher, and friends, family (or pets) can be Students (with pretend names!). Make a “classroom” and decorate it with pictures about What You Did During Your Summer Vacation. Read books out loud together. Do a science experiment. Go to lunch in the “lunchroom” and recess on the “playground.” Have fun playing school!” – Carrie A Pearson

Carrie A. Pearson is a former early elementary teacher and the winner of a SCBWI-Michigan Picture Book Mentorship Award and a Work of Outstanding Promise grant. A Cool Summer Tail, and the companion, A Warm Winter Tail (2013-2014 Great Lakes Great Books Literature Program and a Gelett Burgess Award) follow many of the same animals to describe how they manage the hot summer and cold winter weather. Carrie and her family live in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Visit her website at www.carriepearsonbooks.com.

“The start of a new school year can be a real stresser for kids. One way to help cope is for parents to share some of the things they enjoyed about going back to school when they were young. For instance, I shared with my daughter that I loved the smell of brand-new magic markers, and the feel of my new school shoes, and the cartoon designs on my metal lunch box (yes, I’m old enough to have had a metal lunch box – and a Hong Kong Fuey one at that!) Then I asked my daughter to share some things she is looking forward to for the new school year. Once we had a list of things to look forward to, it helped offset the list of things to be nervous about.” – Brian Rock

Brian Rock (The Deductive Detective), received a master’s degree in Children’s Literature/Creative Writing from Hollins University. Brian’s short stories for children appear regularly in the regional magazine “Kid’s world” and his poems for children have appeared in Highlights for Children, Poetry Train, and various regional publications. His short story, The Frog Dad, was selected as one of the inaugural titles for iPulpFiction’s “Don’t Read This in the Dark” series. For six years Brian worked in the Chesterfield County public school system teaching at-risk students. Visit Brian’s website for more information. 

“For kids going to new schools, if the child (and parent!) touring the school and finding the child’s classroom before the first day eases anxiety.”

“Start a new journal the day before school begins!”

“For my girls, we also have our favorite first day tradition – With backpack on, they wave from the same spot. We love looking at these pictures and are always amazed at how much difference a year makes.” – Jennifer Keats Curtis

Award-winning author Jennifer Keats Curtis has penned numerous stories about animals, including Kali’s Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue(Children’s Choice Book Award Winner); After A While Crocodile: Alexa’s Diary (NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children) with co-author Dr. Brady Barr of Nat Geo Wild’s Dangerous Encounter; Baby Bear’s Adoption with wildlife biologists at Michigan’s DNR; and Moonlight Crab Count with co-author Dr. Neeti Bathala. The long-time writer’s other recent books include The Lizard Lady, with co-author Dr. Nicole Angeli, Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant and the Animal Helpers Series. When not writing, Jennifer can be found among students and teachers, talking about literacy and conservation. Visit her website at www.jenniferkeatscurtis.com.

When your back to school shopping is finished, take a moment to relax and admire the starry sky or watch the International Space Station soaring overhead. To find out when the ISS passes over your town, visit NASA’s Spot the Station website. – Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of over 80 books for children including The Great Divide, Multiply on the FlyWhat’s the Difference?, What’s New at the Zoo?, and Animals are Sleeping for Arbordale. Her works include picture books, biographies, and many non-fiction titles about animals, sports, and nature. One of her favorite parts of the writing process is researching and learning new things. Suzanne lives near Chicago with her husband Mike, two children, and their tiny dog Corduroy. She enjoys visiting schools in-person or during her live virtual author visits. Visit Suzanne’s Website

Designate a homework spot where your child will always study. Keep work there so it doesn’t get lost. If the spot is by a computer, make sure you (the parent) check in frequently to see the computer is being used ONLY for homework.  – Terri Fields

Terri Fields has written nineteen books which have garnered a number of awards including the Maud Hart Lovelace Award for Middle Grades Fiction, the Georgia Children’s Choice Award, being named to the Recommended Reading List for Chicago Public Schools, the TAYSHAS (Texas) Reading List, the Southwest Books of the Year List, and as one of the 100 Top Kid Picks in Children’s Books in Arizona. In addition to Tornado Tamer, she has written Burro’s Tortillas and The Most Dangerous for Arbordale. A long time desert-dweller, Ms Fields has enjoyed sharing her books with children all over the world. In addition to writing, Ms. Fields is also a educator who has been named Arizona Teacher of the Year, ING Education Innovator for Arizona, and been selected as one of the twenty teachers on the All-USA Teacher Team of the nation’s top educators. Terri Fields has worked with students in first through twelfth grades. Ms. Fields sees the world around her in terms of the wonderful stories it reveals. Visit Terri’s website.

We hope your transition back to school is easy and fun! And, learn more about these author’s books on arbordalepublishing.com!