Be Your Own Birder

Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf

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  • Author: Olivia Bouler
  • Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
  • Publication Date: April 2011
  • Pages: 32

Be Your Own Birder’s Thoughts

When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began in April 2010, it was immediately apparent that the disaster would have a grave impact on the Gulf region, particularly on the nesting and migratory birds that relied on that coastal habitat every spring. Many volunteers pitched in with fundraisers and hours of labor to help clean up the spill, and Olivia Bouler was among them, in a unique way. Upon learning of the catastrophe, she wrote to the National Audubon Society that she was “11 years old and willing to help” with a proposal to offer bird sketches to raise money. In the course of her efforts, she contributed 500 original paintings of more than 120 bird species, ultimately raising more than $200,000 to support cleanup, restoration, and rehabilitation efforts.

Olivia’s Birds is the published result of this young girl’s efforts, a children’s book containing more than 40 of her sketches and casual text to appeal to young readers. The kid-friendly font is easy to read, and each page offers unique trivia about birds and introductory, simplified information to teach readers about birds and how amazing they can be. A wide range of birds is included, and while most are familiar North American species, more exotic birds such as the kiwi and the peach-faced lovebird can pique readers’ interest and broaden their horizons.

The book’s full color illustrations are rough but accurate, and reflect the skill and dedication of this young artist. Proportions and general field marks are accurate, and while one error stands out – a house sparrow is mistakenly labeled as a house finch – the species are well-represented among different bird families, including passerines, raptors, shorebirds, and waders.

Readers with their own desire to make a difference will especially appreciate the tips offering ways anyone can help protect the planet right at home, and a brief list of wildlife and bird conservation organizations is included. The suggestions are minimal, but provide a good starting point for young readers to take flight with their own projects. Researching the suggested organizations can yield many more ideas.

Olivia Bouler has been nationally recognized for her Save the Gulf campaign, and as she continues to refine her artistic talents, she continues to make a difference for birds and wildlife. A brief photographic section at the end of the book follows some of her influential appearances and demonstrates that if you try hard enough and work with your passion, you can always find a way to help. Through Olivia’s Birds, her work will continue to inspire young birders and artists to use their own passions and talents to make a difference.

Worth Reading? Yes – 9/10!

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