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It’s been awhile since I reviewed a book about birds and I’m often very critical about the books so believe me when I tell you that this book is excellent.  Scott Weidensaul is a career birder.  He writes, he lectures and he birds whenever he can.

 

As the title explains, the book is about the history of birding in the United States.  The topic is broadly divided into a first part about people coming to the new world, becoming interested in birding and giving names to the bird.  In the future you’ll be seeing a lot of references to this book in my posts because Weidensaul gives wonderful details about how various birds were named for friends of the people that discovered the bird, people who funded birding trips, etc.

 

The second part is about the process of creating field identification books.  There is a lot of detail about Audubon, the first official field guide made by Roger Tory Peterson and a recent one written by Sibley.  This book was published in 2007 and it’s too bad it wasn’t published more recently because Crossley came out with a pretty revolutionary book last year.  The book ends with a brief discussion of Ken Kaufman and a plea to be more aware of bird conservation.  I’ve been meaning to read Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway, and this might get me to finally do it.

 

The book is very well written and I enjoyed the style.  The writing is descriptive without being exhaustively descriptive.  And nothing is so involved that you wouldn’t have trouble putting the book down and reading it a week later.  Also, the author is pretty inclusive about talking about different birding styles and how they’re all legitimate.  I’m still a bit peeved by one of the stories in Good Birders Don’t Wear White because the guy talks about how birders with money aren’t real birders because they’re buying their way to the birds.  Weidensaul’s book isn’t at all judgmental and I thoroughly recommend it.

2 Responses to “Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding by Scott Weidensaul”

  1. Kathy Walters says:

    Elizabeth, I have read others of Weidensal’s books and loved them. I find them very intellegent and thought provoking.

    At the refuge where I volunteer all the volunteers who work with the public bird in white shirts. It bothered me because of the book title for a great while however, many of our birds are white as well, so I guess it doesn’t bother the birds in our area.

    You have me wanting to visit the Salt Lake City area sometime to bird.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I think the white shirt warning is too extreme. Or the birds in your refuge are used to the people by now.