Friday, February 17, 2012

My Favorite Bird Book


It can sometimes be lonely being a non-scientist birder. I try my best to keep up with all the species splits and range data and technical identification points, but it frankly isn't my primary interest in birding. I'm in it for the adventure! For the sightseeing! To laugh about how funny everyone dresses!

So I'm always on the lookout for birding books that aren't about identification or impending extinction. That's why I love Whose Bird? by Bo Beolens and Michael Watkins.

This book is 378 pages of stories about the men (and women, but mostly men) for whom birds are named. Kirtland's Warbler? Named for Cleveland-area naturalist Dr. Jared Potter Kirkland. Ross' Goose? For the Irish-born administrator of the Hudson Bay Company named Bernard Rogan Ross. Heermann's Gull? I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU BUY THE BOOK.

It's a fascinating read, full of stories that would otherwise be lost to history. These people often are only tenuously connected to the birds they're named for, the product of some previous inspiration or financial support. It always struck me as incredible that what most of these people are best remembered for is something they sometimes had so little to do with during their lifetimes. At the same time, I'd love to be read about a century after my death for anything.

If you like birding - all facets of birding - you'll love this book.  Here it is at Amazon

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