2014: 41. Kingbird Highway

"People always call us 'birdwatchers." But if we had been, there would be no story to tell."

Kingbird Highway, Kenn Kaufman

Another recommendation from Mischa (and btw, the fastest way to get me to read a book you recommend is to physically place it in my hands, because I feel very guilty holding onto a lent book and try very hard to read it as fast as I can), who himself is a birder, and thus, lent me a birdwatching book.  I know, the quote above says they are not birdwatchers, but let's not kid ourselves - no matter how serious you are about birds, if you watch them, you are a birdwatcher.

This is a true account of a famous birder - he's gone on to write a famous field guide series and such - who, when he was a young teenager, left home and began hitchhiking around America, looking at birds.  Yes, this was the 1970's, why do you ask? He decides, though he is living hand-to-mouth, to try to have a "big year" and see more birds in one year than anyone ever has before. This is the story of that year.

It definitely took me a while to get into this - I'm not a birder, and Kaufman is not Proust.  But I got into it, eventually - his enthusiasm for the birds shines through, and, as the book goes on, he becomes less excited about the list, and more about just learning about the birds.  And when he talks about specific places where he saw beautiful or important (to him) birds, his book sings.  Pun intended.  Plus, he visited Popham Beach! Popham Beach, Maine (where my family lives) is NEVER in books.  And he went to the Dry Tortugas, a place with which I am obsessed (for National Park reasons, not bird reasons, but still!).  

P.S. - Turns out this isn't the first birding book I've read.  I think I liked the other one better, too, so maybe check out To See Every Bird on Earth if you're into birds!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017