Sheila N. Kee earned her Girl Scout “Bird Badge” in 1957 and has been fascinated by everyday common birds ever since. Backyard Birds of the Inland Empire fulfills that desire by identifying the fifty most common bird types in the Inland Empire. It is an introduction to the many birds with whom we share this unique region.
The award winning first edition was developed by the Riverside Corona Resources Conservation District (RCRCD). This enhanced second edition has been co-published by Heyday Books and the Inlandia Institute in collaboration with RCRCD. Backyard Birds of the Inland Empire by Heyday Books is a refreshing approach to the traditional guides that classify animals by scientifically established taxonomy. For the average non-birder, this can be frustrating and difficult to navigate. Backyard Birds of the Inland Empire enables the non-birder to indentify the various bird types by color and size, characteristics that are easy to notice at first glance. Sheila N. Kee gives a detailed description to the fifty most common birds of the Inland Empire including behavior traits, calls, food preferences, and nesting patterns. Birds range from Brewer’s blackbirds and Nuttall’s woodpeckers to western screech owls and Costa’s hummingbirds. This useful guide, printed in full color, makes the rich and bountiful avian world of the Inland Empire come to life.
The Inlandia Institute’s mission is to recognize, support and expand literary activity in all of its forms through community programs and book publications in the Inland Empire, thereby deepening people’s awareness, understanding, and appreciation of this unique, complex and creatively vibrant region; Inlandia is devoted to celebrating Inland Southern California in word, image and sound.
This remarkable book could not have developed without the sponsorship of the Riverside Resource Conservation District (RCRCD), a local agency. RCRCD facilitates natural resource conservation through education, collaboration, and technical assistance in portions of western Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Backyard Birds of the Inland Empire was partially funded by the RCRCD and a grant from the James Irvine Foundation to Heyday Books. The James Irvine Foundation provides more than $1 billion in grants to over 3,000 nonprofit organizations across the state.
Sheila Kee has had several diverse careers before finally retiring in 2005. After first graduating from college in 1968 with a BA, she became a social worker in Baltimore City. This led to her obtaining her Master of Community Planning from University of Maryland in 1973. She then moved out west, where she had always dreamed of living and lived in Tucson, working as a City Planner for almost ten years.
HER TRUE PASSION
Feeling restless and unfulfilled, Sheila began her journey to discover what was her real life's work. After taking exploratory math and science classes at the University of Arizona, she decided to take the plunge and return to school full time at the age of 38. Realizing her strong love of nature, she decided to refocus her career path and become a wildlife biologist. She attended Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA and graduated at the age of 40 with a BS.
WILDLIFE AND COLLEGIATE EXPERIENCES
Her first wildlife experience was monitoring eight wild Peregrine Falcon eyries on the NW coast of California for the Predatory Bird Group of the Peregrine Fund. This led to her being offered a chance to work in the Sierras with the USFS Research Station in Fresno, CA. She mist netted, banded and tracked birds in the western Sierras for a summer, then was loaned to a UC Berkeley graduate student to help in his field research in Browns Valley, CA. Here she had the opportunity to learn to bird by sound, conduct bird counts and foraging studies, and participate in small mammal trapping and pitfall trapping of herps.
She returned to work with the USFS Research Station in the western Sierras and participated in a study of the best techniques for counting birds. She lived in a remote cabin with 5 other biologists. She again was loaned out, this time to another USFS researcher. She worked in the NE corner of CA, wandering from Lassen NP to Lava Beds to Goose Lake establishing transects for future bird studies.
She again returned to work with the USFS Research Station in Fresno and continued helping with bird studies. This being her last year allowed as a 'temporary worker', the director recommended her for a job with a biology professor at UC Riverside. This temporary position was initially to help write a Wildlife Corridor Plan for western Riverside County. This entailed learning GIS and because of this training, she was offered a permanent position with UCR.
She began working half-time with the biology professor doing field work and half-time with a professor in Botany and Plant Sciences doing statistical analysis. When a new Plant Ecologist was hired by BPS, Sheila was offered the Staff Research Associate position. This entailed managing the professor's ecology lab, conducting lab and field experiments, data management and analysis. In 2000 the plant ecology professor was asked to be Editor-in-Chief of the Restoration Ecology Journal. She agreed to do this if Sheila would become Managing Editor of the Journal. Thus began Sheila's fifth career - shepherding manuscripts through the peer review system and seeing them published.
During this time, Sheila also maintained her field work and lab management and was allowed to pursue her own dream of writing a book for beginning birders in the urbanized areas of Riverside County.
Upon retiring in 2005, Sheila and her husband moved out of southern California to the Pacific Northwest. Sheila is learning to enjoy a whole new array of birds, even having Bald Eagles nesting on her two acres.