The Reading Nook, May 2023

by May 12, 2023News, Uncategorized

Article by David Sandri, PWA Librarian*
May 2023

Hello and welcome to the first post for The Reading Nook – a monthly book review from our library, along with newsworthy items to do with nature. Let’s dive right in (like a diving duck!) to our first book –

Spotlight Book of the Month –

Wild Sonoma: Exploring Nature in Wine Country – Charles Hood, with Lynn Horowitz and Jeanne Wirka; Illustrations by John Muir Laws; Berkeley, CA: Heyday; 2022; 203 pp.

While Sonoma County is known for Wine, we have an abundance of wonderful plants, animals and places to get your nature on. But, do you know where to go, and what to look for? Well, fear not, as this recently published book has you covered. A fun and quick read, it is also well laid out to use as a field guide as well, for your trips into nature in Sonoma County.

Wild Sonoma is broken into 3 sections: Part 1 – Where Nature Comes From; Part 2 – A Field Guide to Cool and Interesting Species; Part 3 – Explorations and Excursions.

In Part 1, the team of authors give a very well written introduction to nature, including explaining water and watersheds, dirt v. soil, and fire ecology. The writing is engaging as well as informative. In Part 2, which is the largest section of the book, the reader is introduced to the wide variety of plants and animals that one could see on a trip in nature in Sonoma County. Further broken down into Birds, Plants, Insects, Mammals, and Reptiles and Amphibians, this section not only makes for great reading, but can be your field guide when you go out and about. They also include fun facts, such as – “Many birds’ taste buds are not on their tongues but along the insides of their bills. The Coot can “taste” a new plant by nibbling with its bill tip”; and on poison oak – “Only humans, guinea pigs and monkeys react to poison oak. Almost all other wildlife does fine with it.” Information is included on how to tell different species apart, so you can see how much you can find on your trip.

And speaking of trips, in Part 3, the authors give you suggested field trips in various parts of the county. My particular favorite is the Jenner and the Russian River Estuary – I recently did this one with my spouse, and not only had a great time, but got to see a Bald Eagle (yes, they will come this far down the coast)!

Besides the amazing pictures, the book is loaded with drawings of plants and animals from the amazing John Muir Laws. He is one of the preeminent nature artists in the world (as well as an educator and writer in his own right), and his vibrant color drawings really brings the text to life.

Looking to get out into nature in Sonoma County, but do not know where to get some information? Pick up a copy of Wild Sonoma, and you are well on your way to enjoying the natural world around you. We have a copy (recently donated) In the PWA library – available to check out! You can also check your local library, or independent bookseller as well. For more information on books and materials in the PWA Library, contact us at

Speaking of libraries, did you know that PWA has a library? Why, YES WE DO!!! We have over 200 items in the library, and the list will be up on our website in May, so check it out.

In other news –

The latest issue of Audubon Magazine has some great articles, such as how scientists are striving to help save the American Kestrel, and on how tourists can minimize harm and maximize benefits when traveling to a recovering habitat. Find this and more at

If you are looking for more science about birds, check out the newest issue of Living Bird Magazine, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Besides some great material on Quetzals, Cooper’s and Sharp-Shinned Hawks, and state birds, this issue has reviews of the best affordable binoculars (very helpful for anyone out birding). See more at

And, don’t forget – PWA has nature walks twice a month – 2nd Saturday of the month at Shollenberger, and 4th Saturday of the month at Ellis Creek – see our website for more on this –

That’s all for this time – have fun reading and exploring nature!

  • Note: The PWA library has a new home at the Lucchesi Community Center. Ask at the desk, and they will be happy to unlock the 2 cabinets they graciously gave us to use! There is a self-sign out and sign in system inside the cabinet. 


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