Bernd Heinrich is one of our foremost natural history authors. Most of his work is about birds.


I found him via one of his books about ravens. Heinrich has a cabin deep in the woods of Maine. Much of his bird observation is done there. That was the site of his raven work.


And it is where he carefully crafted in impressive detail his book on nesting tree swallows: “White Feathers — the Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows.”


The title comes from the birds’ use of feathers in their nests. 


I tend nest boxes intended for bluebirds. You cannot expect the swallows to ignore such obvious nesting opportunities. They are obligated by nature to nest in cavities, rare finds these days due to our land uses and our ill-considered disposal of dead or dying trees.


Heinrich observed, recorded, and photographed every phase of the swallows’ arrival, courtship, breeding, tending eggs and baby birds, and care after the young birds fledged. He didn’t miss a detail. It’s all in this book.


If you’ve had tree swallows in your nesting boxes, Heinrich answers any question you might have had. If you plan to place boxes, this is a primer on the adventure that awaits.


Heinrich writes in an easy style, clean prose that carries his enthusiasm for the birds, and for sharing the story.


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover, 232 pages, index, illustrated with Heinrich’s fine photos, $27.


This is one of my photos of a tree swallow in her nest, surrounded by white feathers.