Mike O’Connor is a syndicated avian expert and owner of the popular Bird Watcher’s General Store in Cape Cod. He’s also a very funny and informative writer, as indicated by his charming book, Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? And Other Answers to Bird Questions You Know You Want to Ask. Mr. O’Connor estimates that he’s answered thousands of birding-related questions both as an industry merchant and the wit behind the column, “Ask the Bird Folks.” Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? presents a cornucopia of these queries paired with informed, interesting responses.
I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from this work, imagining that my own birding experience elevated me above the author’s target audience. To my surprise, I enjoyed this book cover to cover. While most of the information was not new to me, Mr. O’Connor heaps on enough fascinating facts per page to capture any enthusiast’s attention. Moreover, what really sells this book is the author’s easy-going, engaging writing style. It’s clear that he wrote every page with either a smile or a smirk on his face, tossing out wry witticisms like, “…I heard of one lady who was so upset when she saw a jay eating another bird that she nearly dropped her bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.” I might have found the humor a bit corny at first but in no time at all I was more interested in the next bon mot than I was in the birds.
Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? is a quick, pleasurable read. Due to the author’s New England roots, the book has a strong northeastern U.S. bias. Furthermore, for a work that purports to answer questions, its Table of Contents offers little guidance to specific answers. These minor flaws hardly detract from the fun. Though backyard birders will certainly find the most value in Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? And Other Answers to Bird Questions You Know You Want to Ask, anyone with even a passing interest in birds will get a laugh out of it.