Worms for winter

Mealworms are a good winter bird food. They're full of fat and protein, which insect-eating birds are hard pressed to find in cold months. You can buy mealworms at bait shops, bird stores or via the Internet. Buy them by the hundreds or thousands, then keep them dormant in your refrigerator until you're ready to offer them to the birds on a platform feeder.

Difficult survival

About half of the birds you see in your yard or neighborhood -- both migrants and residents -- won't make it through the winter. Mortality rates for most songbirds are near 50 percent. The first year is the most difficult for survival. But the birds that do survive until next spring are likely to live another year and a half.

Book in brief

"Birds in Flight: The Art and Science of How Birds Fly" (Voyageur Press, $25) by Minnesotan Carrol Henderson is a book of beauty, adventure and technology made clear.

Henderson, a wildlife biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, gives a detailed analysis of how birds fly. He does it with personal stories punctuated with a clear explanation of the physics of flight. Wonderful photographs of birds on the wing help us understand the complexities of the amazing feat that birds perform so effortlessly -- flight. Henderson is author and photographer of several other fine books. This one moves to the top of that list.