From Publishers Weekly
Birders as well as all others interested in birds will enjoy this witty and informative meditation. Declaring himself a victim of birding compulsive disorder, Cashwell, an English teacher in Virginia, does an excellent job of describing his fascination with observing and listening to birds. He is fond of the peace of birding alone, but also enjoys getting up at dawn, meeting a group of other birders and logging species together. Many birders compile lists (called life lists or lifers) of each species they have seen in the wild, which can make the pursuit a competitive one. Interspersed with the author's personal experiences are engrossing commentaries on the history of birding and the means by which certain species were introduced to the U.S. Cashwell also lists birds he dislikes: for example, he considers the starling to be a nuisance that has driven other species to the brink of extinction. He credits the starling's existence in the U.S. to Eugene Schieffelin, who, in 1890, released at least 60 of these birds in Central Park because they were mentioned in Shakespeare. The author has birded in his own backyard, in many other states and in Scotland. In a touching anecdote, Cashwell recounts how a difficult Christmas holiday was transformed by the sight and sound of a great horned owl. This is an unusual and engrossing rumination on birding. B&w illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Birders know that the word bird
is not only a noun (a feathered animal) but also a verb (to bird is simply to look for birds). Cashwell, an English teacher from Virginia, rhapsodizes on both birds and birding in the quirky exploration of an obsession. He draws on his literary background as he mixes accounts of birding trips with asides about birding language (a gaggle of geese) or muses on the introduction of Europe's common starling to the U.S. because it is mentioned in one of Shakespeare's plays. Pop culture also receives its due, as the differences between the two species of meadowlarks are compared to the differences between Chuck Jones' and Tex Avery's animation. Cashwell throws in some of the fine points of birding and takes the reader along on some trips while he gets to the essence of why people love to bird, even with winds of 40 miles an hour on an early spring morning. Birders in every library will eagerly seek out this entertaining memoir. Nancy BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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