"Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, & Build" was the best bird-related book I read in 2010. It discusses construction of bird nests. It recently was honored by winning top award for professional and scholarly excellence for a reference/science book in competition sponsored by the Association of American Publishers.

Author Peter Goodfellow uses clear text supported by fine photos and particularly wonderful drawings, diagrams, and how-to illustrations to show us exactly how particular types of nests are constructed. Have you ever looked up at the remains of a Baltimore Oriole's sock-like woven nest and wondered how the bird did it? (This is a good time of year to look for nests.) I found an oriole nest this weekend, and wished I could take it in hand for close examination. I needed arms 20 feet long to reach it, though.

Goodfellow solves the nest retrieval problem for us. He selects bird species that best demonstrate construction technique and secrets for various nest types. I look at nests in a new way now, admiration first, curiosity second. Birds do many things I can't do (fly, eggs). Building a nest is high on the list.

The book was published by Princeton University Press. It's hard-cover, indexed, with dozens of excellent illustrations, and a list of resources to take you deeper into the wonder of nests. Price is $27.95.

The Richard Crossley identification book, by the way, won top award from the AAP for excellence in reference books. That also is a Princeton University Press publication.