Club George: The Diary of a Central Park Birdwatcher

Bob Levy, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $23.95 (369p) ISBN 978-0-312-34167-1

After being downsized out of his corporate career, Levy found solace in New York City's Central Park, where he was astonished to encounter a red-winged blackbird that had learned to use humans as an easy source of food. The bird was named George by a group of admirers whom Levy quickly joined, and in this chatty and sometimes witty book, the neophyte bird watcher tells of his Sundays (and other days) in the park with George, hand feeding him and studying his habits. Fascination with one bird led to attempts to get to know others, including a downy woodpecker and a mallard with a broken beak. He describes them and includes tips on bird identification books and binoculars. Levy's enthusiasm is appealing, but his discussion of hand feeding birds is problematic: watching wild birds is one thing; teaching them to trust humans is another—he mentions two incidents in which George's lack of fear of humans nearly resulted in disaster for the bird, but Levy never seriously addresses the question of whether the kind of interactions he implicitly encourages is in the best interest of wildlife. It's also a shame that the 72 photos are b&w; bird lovers would undoubtedly want them in glorious color. (Mar. 7)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 03/01/2006
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