Susan Quinlan’s new book, “Birds of the Rocky Mountain Front Range-a Coloring Book Guide for Aspiring Naturalists,” grew out of her lifelong love of birds.
Quinlan’s passion for the winged creatures goes back to her childhood, when she pored over her mother’s Peterson Field Guide for birds. Her passion was nurtured by a bird feeder that attracted eastern blue jays in her grandparents’ Iowa back yard, and it matured when she studied ornithology as a wildlife biology major at Colorado State University.
“I was amazed at the number of birds I knew from books that could be found in our neighborhoods and parklands,” Quinlan said.
Graduate studies in wildlife biology at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks led her to spend months on a four-acre island that was home to the tiny seabird that was the subject of her thesis.
Quinlan ended up living for more than 30 years in Alaska. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and developed educational materials and trail guides for a local school system. She also spent a decade leading natural history tours all over the world with her husband, Bud Lehnhausen.
In addition, Quinlan wrote nonfiction books for young readers: The Case of the Mummified Pigs and Other Mysteries of Nature and The Case of the Monkeys that Fell From the Trees and Other Mysteries in Tropical Nature. She also illustrated the monkey book.
The books won awards from the International Reading Association and the National Science Teachers Association as the outstanding trade book of the year. Quinlan’s books Puffins and Caribou are also award winners.
Her newest book, which she also illustrated, includes 48 line drawings of local birds plus a detachable coloring guide to help users realistically reflect the birds’ markings. The text identifies traits of the birds and describes their natural history and habitats. There’s also an introduction with tips on how to identify size, habitat, body shape and specific markings of each bird.
“One of my primary goals, beyond trying to help people learn about birds, is to raise funds for bird conservation,” Quinlan said. “A portion of sales will be donated to bird conservation projects.”
Quinlan said all of the natural areas around northern Colorado are good for bird watching. She suggests the Environmental Learning Center, Dixon Reservoir, Bobcat Ridge and Lory State Park as good places to start. The Fort Collins Audubon Society and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies also offer field trips to identify birds.
Birds of the Rocky Mountain Front Range is available at all Jax stores, from Audubon Rockies, at Fort Collins Audubon Society meetings or from the author’s website: naturescienceart.com.