When you see a bird and try to describe its bony area around the mouth, do you refer to it as a beak or bill? You can find both in the literature, and both words mean the same thing, but the correct term is "bill."

Ornithologists prefer this term, although no one knows exactly why. The scientific literature uses "bill," while many non-scientific articles use both terms, but bill is correct.

No matter what we say, the bird's bill is truly fascinating. It serves as a knife, fork, plate, processor and other things. Think about hummingbirds who use their long, narrow beak to sip nectar.

Hawks use their bills to rip apart their food. Pelicans scoop up vast amounts of water and whatever is in it. In fact, their bills hold more than their stomach. Grosbeaks have thick bills to crack the seeds they love. All in all, pretty amazing to look at the variety of bird bills. I've never given a thought to bill versus beak and am sure I've used both interchangeably and probably will again.

Summer Reading

Eduardo deValfierno makes a living by stealing valuable pieces of art in "Stealing Mona Lisa," a novel by Carson Morton. During a con job, he meets Mrs. Hart. Eduardo takes a risk and goes back to Paris where he assembles a team of con artists. Their mission? Steal the Mona Lisa. One of the team members goes missing, and the police are relentless in their pursuit in this mystery.

Ira Wagler left his Amish home at the age of 17 to join a world he had never known. "Growing Up Amish" is a true story of what it's like to be in two different worlds. Read about his childhood, what life was like on the family farm, and his decision to leave the church when he was 26.

"A Murder in Tuscany" by Christobel Kent is a mystery featuring private detective Sandro Cellini. Loni Meadows is the director of an artistic retreat outside Florence. When she goes off the road one icy night, her death is less than accidental. Several people could be responsible for her death, and it is up to Sandro to figure out just who committed the crime.

Six-year-old Danielle was rescued from a dark room in her mother's dirty, roach-infested home. She only spoke in grunts, walked on her tiptoes, and drank from a baby bottle. She was not toilet trained. Diane and Bernie Lierow adopted Dani and were determined to give her the love she desperately needed along with special care that would help her to develop normally. "Dani's Story" is the true story of a young girl who was terribly neglected and the couple who adopted her.

Children's Books

"Counting in the Garden" by Emily Hruby is a board book for young children. A child points out many of the things growing in his garden and children will be able to find the items and count them. Bright pictures, practice with accounting and lots of details will have children asking for this book more than once.

"Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-To-School Smarty-Pants" by Elise Primavera finds Louise starting a new school year and she wants to do it just right. She and her sister, Penelope, are going to study hard and get straight A's. The only problem is, Mrs. Pearl, is very strict and she never gives A's. Will Louise see an A this school year?

Mrs. Payne is a substitute teacher in Martin's class. She gives tons of homework and it just so happens that Martin has a dog who loves to eat his homework. Really, he does. Of course, Mrs. Payne does not believe that Martin's homework keeps getting eaten, lost and destroyed, no matter how hard he tries to prevent it. He's got to do something to turn this disaster around. Find out what he does in "Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches."

Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.

Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at www.thedailystar.com/librarycorner.

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