Be Your Own Birder

Tea with Lady Sapphire

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Be Your Own Birder’s Thoughts

Introducing kids to birds is vital to ensure ongoing conservation and wildlife support, and even very young children can be fascinated by their wild feathered friends. Tea With Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds is a simple story of a grandmother’s tradition of feeding winter birds with her grandchildren, and this charming picture book is ideal to share with young, future birders.

The childish curiosity and enthusiasm of Sweet Child and Little Squirt are infectious, while simple but vivid descriptions such as “a perfect snow … a packing snow” help birders of all ages remember winter days when birds bring a snowy yard alive. And alive it is, as 20 different bird species visit the various feeders and feeding areas in this one winter yard. Two pages of thumbnail photos at the end of the story review the birds, including American goldfinches, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, blue jays, cedar waxwings, wild turkeys, and more.

Of course, the namesake character – Lady Sapphire, a female pileated woodpecker – also visits, as does her mate, christened Mr. Succotash for “his handsome red mustache.” That distinction between the male and female pileated woodpeckers introduces the concept of dimorphic bird plumage, and other birding concepts briefly mentioned in the book include bully birds, seasonal plumages, and diet preferences.

Even more advanced birding challenges, such as how to tell the difference between downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers, are briefly touched upon. While no concept is as fully explored as it would be for adult readers, the simple descriptions such as “look at the hairy’s red cap. That’s how you can tell it’s a male. The ladies don’t wear a red cap” are kid-friendly and ideal for young birders.

Another important part of the story is the variety of foods included in the storyteller’s feeding stations. Suet, nuts, fruit, corn, Nyjer, and other types of birdseed are all part of the buffet, and different birds choose different foods. This highlights the importance of providing a varied diet for birds and emphasizes how more foods will attract more species.

Sharing cookies, cocoa, and tea while enjoying the birds that visit the feeders is a great tradition any parent or grandparent can start to introduce their children and grandchildren to the wonders of birds. Tea With Lady Sapphire can even help readers start such a tradition with the snickerdoodle cookie recipe included in the book. While no recipe for feeding the birds – no instructions for making feeders or customizing suet – is included, the act of making a snowman and decorating it so the birds can eat can be a creative and rewarding winter project for any backyard birder, young or old.

Tea With Lady Sapphire is a not-so-simple children’s book dedicated “For those who protect wild places and care for our feathered friends.” With the beauty of the book and its vital message and subtle tips about feeding wild birds in winter, every reader, no matter what their age, can take this story to heart and welcome birds to their yard.

Worth Reading? Yes – 9.5/10!

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