Urban Wonders, Herbal Teas, and Birds

A writer explores urban nature, an herbalist shares tea remedies, and a guide highlights Golden Gate Park birds.


Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails, & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness by Nathanael Johnson (April 2016, Rodale Books, 256 pp., $24.99)

When Berkeley writer Nathanael Johnson realized how inept he was at identifying tree species for his daughter, he dived in deep to learn all about his natural urban surroundings. He shares his discoveries to bring people and nature together, creating a sense of belonging between the observer and the observed. Johnson wants urban and suburbanites to understand they don’t have to go anywhere to find nature; it’s all around them, though largely ignored. He points it out through the lives of pigeons, weeds, squirrels, ginkgos, ants, crows, snails, turkey vultures, and birds.


Infuse: Herbal Teas to Cleanse, Nourish, and Heal by Paula Grainger and Karen Sullivan (May 2016, Hamlyn, 144 pp., $16.99)

Santa Cruz-based clinical herbalist and wellness consultant Paula Grainger teams up with journalist Karen Sullivan for this lovely recipe book of herbal tea blends to improve your physical and mental health and overall sense of well-being. Determine a therapeutic interest—cleanse and detox, digest and nourish, boost and revitalize, peace and calm, fortify and protect, bliss and happiness, and beyond teas—then see what blends of herbs, ingredients, and steps are suggested to maximize helpful results. A useful “Herb-pedia” explains herbal properties and associated nutrients, and an index makes for easy reference. Beautiful photography and a muted palette make this book a pleasure to thumb through.


Birds of Golden Gate Park—A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species (Waterford Press, $6.95)

Get a handle on the 250 species of birds that live in or migrate through Golden Gate Park with this new laminated, durable Waterford Press pocket folding nature guide produced with the Golden Gate Audubon Society. It shows images of geese and ducks, wading birds and gulls, water and shorebirds, birds of prey, woodpeckers, and perching birds, and indicates general sizes. The birds are further classified as year-round or transient residents and common or uncommon, and notations indicate whether they are seen in summer or winter.

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