Nest secrets revealed

"Into the Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Birds" by Laura Erickson and Marie Read (Storey Publishing, $16.95)

Few things fascinate us more — and are less visible to the eye — than the nesting lives of birds. How do tiny chickadees, wrens and hummingbirds raise the next generation, and how about mallards and eagles and woodpeckers? Now, thanks to a collaboration between Erickson, an award-winning author (who lives in Duluth), and Read, a top-notch bird photographer, this book allows us a peek into nesting season.

From the gorgeous cedar waxwings on the book's cover to the bald eagles' aerial maneuvers on the back, this book takes us behind the scenes as birds engage in courtship, build their nests and raise their always-hungry young. The book feeds our curiosity with fascinating facts (why female raptors are larger than males, how a tiny killdeer can scare off animals as large as bison, what hummingbirds look for in a neighborhood) and engaging photos (Read gives us a bird's-eye view into a woodpecker nest and the thrilling sky dance of red-tailed hawks).

"Into the Nest" offers general information about the breeding season, then focuses on about 30 familiar bird species, from bluebirds to great blue herons and barn swallows to great horned owls.

For anyone who's ever longed for a look into the nest of a songbird, or a duck or raptor, this is the book for you.

Val Cunningham