Although the many common birds of the Upper Midwest are lovely to hear and see, there is no doubt that the uncommon birds attract more attention. In this gorgeously illustrated companion to their Fifty Common Birds of the Upper Midwest, which provided a new appreciation of the not-so-ordinary beauty and lifeways of familiar birds, illustrator Dana Gardner and writer Nancy Overcott celebrate the rarer birds of the Upper Midwest.

Gardner and Overcott selected species that are uncommon because of dwindling populations, species that may be common elsewhere but not in the Upper Midwest, species that may be abundant one year and absent the next, and species that are usually present but are seldom seen. Beginning with the surf scoter with its multicolored bill and ending with the gregarious evening grosbeak, which resembles a giant goldfinch, they pair watercolors of each species with text that portrays its life cycle, its vocalizations and appearance, and its habitat, food, and foraging methods as well as migration patterns and distribution. Throughout, Overcott’s personable text is infused with the pleasures of her twenty-plus years of living and birding in Minnesota’s Big Woods and her dedication to preserving natural resources, and Gardner’s paintings—each a gorgeous reminder of the rare qualities of these uncommon birds from this renowned illustrator of bird life worldwide—emphasize her call for conservation efforts. The annotated bibliography includes online information about national and international organizations that focus on birds or that affect birds through conservation, as well as information about a variety of books and journals for beginning to experienced birders.

Even the most easily seen bird is uncommon, if we use “uncommon” to describe the exceptional beauty and behavior of all birds. Focusing on fifty truly uncommon birds (plus two bonus birds) of an area they know and love, Gardner and Overcott give readers the desire to search for these birds and the incentive to protect them.

“This delightful book is full of interesting stories- about encounters with the rare and reclusive birds of the Upper Midwest. Nancy Overcott provides a fascinating introduction to a whole group of species that many birders are unfamiliar with but that can add greatly to their birding experiences.”—James Dinsmore
“Nancy Overcott’s delightful narrative style joins birds and birders in an informative mix. Dana Gardner paints lively birds set in revealing hints of landscape. Nancy and Dana have been there and seen that. They are uncommonly good.”—Jim Williams, birding columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune



Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata

Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus

Greater Prairie-Chicken, Tympanuchus cupido

Common Loon, Gavia immer

American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus

Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Nycticorax nycticorax and Nyctanassa violacea

White-faced Ibis, Plegadis chihi

Osprey, Pandion haliaetus

Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus

Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni

Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus

Sora, Porzana carolina

Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus

Whooping Crane, Grus americana

Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda

Wilson’s Phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor

Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus

Northern Hawk Owl, Surnia ulula

Great Gray Owl, Strix nebulosa

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Aegolius acadicus

Red-headed Woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor

Philadelphia Vireo, Vireo philadelphicus

Brown Creeper, Certhia americana

Winter Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes

Townsend’s Solitaire, Myadestes townsendi

Veery, Catharus fuscescens

Wood Thrush, Hylocichla mustelina

Brown Thrasher, Toxostoma rufum

Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulous

Blue-winged Warbler, Vermivora pinus

Northern Parula, Parula Americana

Cerulean Warbler, Dendroica cerulea

Prothonotary Warbler, Protonotaria citrea

Louisiana Waterthrush, Seiurus motacilla

Hooded Warbler, Wilsonia citrina

Yellow-breasted Chat, Icteria virens

Summer Tanager, Piranga rubra

Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus

Henslow’s Sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii

Harris’s Sparrow, Zonotrichia querula

Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis

Dickcissel, Spiza americana

Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, Sturnella magna and Sturnella neglecta

Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator

Red Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra

Evening Grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus


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Pages, art, trim size
132 pages, 50 watercolor paintings, 7 ½ x 10 inches