Sunday, October 24, 2010

Look Out for Red Rufous

The proud parents of a new book, Craig and Joy Johnson
No one has inspired me more to love the wild birds of Whidbey Island than our cherished friends, Craig and Joy Johnson of Freeland. Their books of wild bird photography are a local legend, and now they've branched into something new with a children's book that showcases Craig's gorgeous watercolor paintings.

The Amazing Hummingbird Story of Red Rufous follows a hummingbird from birth at Earth Sanctuary in Freeland on its long migration to Mexico and then back again the next spring to Whidbey Island. It is based on several weeks of daily photography a year-and-a-half ago in which Craig documented the incubation of two eggs, the birth and then the early development of two hummingbirds in their tiny nest.

Not only is this the "amazing story" of a creature that fascinates us all, it is also the amazing story of a talented artist and bird-lover battling some tough health issues that make it very challenging to paint. You would never know it from the finished product. Craig and Joy are hoping that modest income from the book will help pay some daunting medical bills.

If you have children or grandchildren, this $9.95 book would make a marvelous gift that will open their eyes to the wonder of birds. It is just starting to show up in island bookstores and shops, but I hope you'll consider mail-ordering your autographed copy directly from Craig and Joy. Order from Craig & Joy.  Or talk to me and I will get it for you.

If you order the book or a bunch of them from Craig and Joy, they will get the $9.95 apiece. If you purchase the book at a shop, only about $6.00 will go to Craig and Joy because the shop, of course, must be paid for stocking and selling the book.

You will want to sit and read this book to the children in your life and have a good conversation as you do. Then, go to Craig and Joy's website and click on "Red Rufous Book Section" to see actual photographs of hummingbird eggs in the nest on Whidbey Island and the young birds getting ready to head out on their own. Learn how hummingbirds survive the night.  See a hummingbird skeleton!

Some of the watercolors in the book.
As with everything Craig and Joy do, this book is much more than just a simple, charming story. It is an eye-opener and it is true to life. For children and adults both, it could be the start of a great, new adventure in bird-watching and a deeper love of nature.

And what a perfect Whidbey Island story.

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