Here are two books about subjects important to birds — insects and plants.

"Garden Insects of North America "(second edition), and "How Plants Work" are recent releases from Princeton University Press. Both are complete examinations of their subjects.

The first, by Whitney Cranshaw and David Shetlar, is called "the ultimate guide to backyard bugs." Birds are bug enemies, always on the lookout for a crawling or flying meal. The book examines the many and special ways insects have evolved protection from this threat.

You will recognize some of these insects (3,300 excellent photos). You might hope to see others. And some you might just as soon avoid.

In any case, the opportunity and challenge for birds is evident.

"How Plants Work"by Stephen Blackmore, examines form, diversity, and survival in the plant kingdom, 400,000 species evolving over 500 million years. The book is informatively illustrated with photos, many microscopic in detail.

Birds have a role here, too, although not part of the author's discussion. Birds and plants have a symbiotic relationship, plants offering much to the diet of almost every bird species, as well as site and material for nesting. Birds help plants with seed distribution. (How do you think buckthorn became so prevalent around here if not for birds disposing of the seeds in the berries they eat? Not that birds should be applauded for that effort.)

If you garden, photograph flowers, or simply pay attention to non-feathered things on your birding walks, this is a revealing book. The life of plants is far more complicated than a casual stroll through garden or woodlot might show.

"Garden Insects" — durable binding, 704 pages, index, profusely illustrated, clear explanatory text accompanying the photos, $35.00.

"How Plants Work" — hardcover, 368 pages, index, glossary, detailed photos and illustrations, $35.00.