Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Armchair Birder

As previously appeared in "The New Writer"

The Armchair Birder:
Discovering the Secret Lives of Birds
John Yow
ISBN 978-0-8078-3279-0
Very occasionally, I read a book, or a passage from a book and say, “I wish I had written that.” The Armchair Birder by John Yow is such a book.
Mr. Yow is a skilled observer. He filled his book with first hand accounts of his observations of 40 common birds observed at his home in rural Georgia or on short trips away from home. Woven into this framework of observation are narratives from famous North American bird observers such as John James Audubon and Arthur Cleveland Bent. These accounts echo his own observations, complimented by reproductions of Audubon’s classic illustrations.
There is one thing his book is not. It is not a guide to bird identification. Yow picked 40 birds easily identified and took the study much further by examining the lives, behavior, and folklore of each species. The Armchair Birder is a delightful read which will motivate readers to further their own investigations.
Reviewed by Ray Zimmerman

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