CITY BIRDING: True Tales of Birds and Birdwatching in Unexpected Places

Mark Allison . Stackpole $18.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-8117-0027-6

Over a dozen first-rank birding writers and ornithologists, including Paul A. Johnsgard and James Gorman, contribute a quirky piece of material each to build this prose nest. They take a sidelong view of themselves as well as their subjects in the "unexpected places," which are mostly urban—many in the New York City area. Other birding sites appear in Ken Kaufman's zen-sublime "Parking Lot Birds" (South Bend, Ind.) and in Judith Toups's "Take Me to Your Sewage Lagoon," an account of birding around a settling pond near Hattiesburg, Miss., that yielded a rare Yellow Wagtail and 28 species of warblers in one day. There are some birding adventure travel pieces like Clay Sutton's raptor report from Veracruz, Mexico, but of the 17 selections here, half are cut-and-pastes from local Audubon Society chapter journals. The quality of the writing (much of which has been previously published) is uneven, but the enthusiasm for "found birding" never wavers, and there is some first-rate natural history reporting, like Kim Todd's "Starling." Some pieces are so slight that even when taken together they are too thin for a serious natural history. Where they do succeed is to remind the homebound birder that this is an avocation that can be experienced anywhere, sometimes with delightful results. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/20/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
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