Book Club: Let’s Wing It!

The Blues Go Birding

One morning at daybreak in 1953, British naturalist and seabird expert James Fisher peered through his window over an airplane wing down to the coast of Newfoundland.

On a small beach below, he spotted a brilliant white bird with black wing-ends. This gannet looked familiar, but Fisher had never seen one so far afield from home. He jotted down the first entry in his journal, covering his planned expedition and inaugural visit to North America.

It was destined to become an epic journey, the greatest birdwatching adventure ever!

James was traveling to meet his friend, renowned American ornithologist, author/illustrator and conservationist Roger Tory Peterson. Together, they set out from St. John’s on a strenuous and thrilling 100-day trip around the edge of the continent, spanning 14 weeks and 30,000 miles. To what purpose? To observe and record the birds, sights and sounds of wild America, from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. Their adventure (resulting in sightings of over 600 different types of birds) is recorded in their classic nonfiction book Wild America: The Legendary Story of Two Great Naturalists on the Road, Houghton Mifflin, 1955. (Used copies available online. Highly recommended.)

And, that’s what inspired The Blues, five intrepid bluebirds who are smitten with the sport of birding, to take their journey chronicled in The Blues Go Birding at Wild America Shores. If you’re an amateur or professional birder of any age, or if you simply admire birds, the children’s picture book series, The Blues Go Birding, is a must add to your travel shelf and a primer about the sport of birding. Three individual books comprise the series, each masterfully illustrated in full-color by Louise Schroeder.

Each bluebird shares a plucky personality, unique life perspective and peculiar habits. In short, they are hilarious!

The idea for these characters came from a photo in a book about five brown birds huddled together on a branch,” recalls Schroeder. “Also, my favorite expression has always been, ‘Let’s go some where!’ I began to paint my interpretation of these birds and to add humor and foibles, including creating one little bird to be always upset about something. Soon this group had morphed into inquisitive, enterprising bluebirds who love to travel. We had a book!”

“It’s such fun to work on this,” notes coauthor and avid birder Carol Malnor. “Once readers meet The Blues, they just love them. They are adorable. And, our information is scientific and accurate, including Louise’s renderings of the other bird species encountered in the stories.”

There is infinite creative content to be discovered and enjoyed inside picture books, fiction or nonfiction. As coauthor of the series, I’m delighted with the fabulous illustrations throughout.

Although The Blues are fictional, anthropomorphic characters who wear clothes and accessories, they share rich, factual information about birding. The sidebars in the double-spread illustrations comprise birding tips, an expanding journal and field guide notes. These details are documented and well-researched. There’s much to learn at every turn. The Blues also reveal their subtle humor with a variety of quips and observations added to the narrative in each scene.

Their initial trip is chronicled in The Blues Go Birding Across America, in which they set out on a cross-country singing tour “from sea to shining sea.” Instead of a planned itinerary, they have a list of birds they hope to find on their travels including a bald eagle, a western meadowlark, a black-footed albatross, a turkey vulture and an American robin. They venture from Alaska to Hawaii, over the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains, crossing the Great Plains, into the south, up through the midwest and, finally, touch down in Washington, D.C.

The Bles Go Birding At Wild America Shores Cover

When they return back to their clubhouse, they reminisce about the excitement of their first birding trip. They’re hooked!

“Let’s wing it,” says Eggbert, the Super Birder, “and follow in the famous footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson.” Eggbert, Bing, Lulu, Uno and Sammi set out to do exactly that in The Blues Go Birding at Wild America Shores. Their itinerary includes Newfoundland, Chesapeake Bay, the Everglades, Dry Tortugas Islands, Isla Coronado Mexico and the Pribilof Islands in Alaska. Eggbert, especially, is on the lookout for an elusive loon.

After successfully returning from wild America, it’s no wonder that The Blues team decides to expand their horizons and tackle a birding trip around the world. The third book in the series, The Blues Go Extreme Birding, finds them scaling a skyscraper in New York City, summiting Mt. Everest, snorkeling in Antarctica, whitewater kayaking in South America and more before returning home to their clubhouse. On this quest, they seek record-setting birds, including the peregrine falcon, the bar-headed goose, the emperor penguin, the superb lyrebird and the sungem hummingbird

The Blues Go Extreme Birding Cover

The series has received endorsements from the American Birding Association, Bird Watcher’s Digest and Cornell Lab. Each book received the Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence and Birding Across America was a Colorado Book Awards Finalist.

All The Blues books are available in portable paperback editions from your bookseller of choice or at