Book Review: Water Babies: The Hidden Lives of Baby Wetland Birds

by Priscilla Feral

You’d be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t enjoy watching videos or see photographs of kittens on social media, a perfect distraction from a hectic work day or bad news overload. They are cute, mysterious and get themselves into all kinds of amusing predicaments providing material just begging to be shared. 

But for photographer, naturalist and Connecticut resident William Burt, it’s wild places and baby birds that put a smile on his face, and he hopes his book Water Babies: The Hidden Lives of Baby Wetland Birds, will have the same effect on audiences.

It does! And you don’t have to be a bird watcher to appreciate the 43 species of baby wetland birds that bring the pages of the book to life—Burt captured their darling personalities as they swim, eat, play and follow their parents. The book also brings attention to the variety of wetlands these creatures inhabit, and how essential it is that these areas remain undeveloped.

Among the irresistible photos found throughout the 208 pages are an American wigeon duckling who had just glided out into the open, standing straight up on the water buzzing his stubby wings; a newly hatched wimbrel chick bottomside up in no hurry to correct itself; Western grebe chicks atop their parents’ backs, a position they climb into after hatching and how they are transported around for four weeks; as well as a black-necked stilt baby being protected by adults.

Burt’s photographs and stories have appeared in Smithsonian, Audubon, National Wildlife and other magazines, and the text in this book reveals once again his warm, engaging tone.