THE VERB "TO BIRD": Sightings of an Avid Birder

Peter Cashwell, Author , illus. by Grant Silverstein. Paul Dry $22.95 (273p) ISBN 978-1-58988-000-9

Birders as well as all others interested in birds will enjoy this witty and informative meditation. Declaring himself a victim of birding compulsive disorder, Cashwell, an English teacher in Virginia, does an excellent job of describing his fascination with observing and listening to birds. He is fond of the peace of birding alone, but also enjoys getting up at dawn, meeting a group of other birders and logging species together. Many birders compile lists (called life lists or lifers) of each species they have seen in the wild, which can make the pursuit a competitive one. Interspersed with the author's personal experiences are engrossing commentaries on the history of birding and the means by which certain species were introduced to the U.S. Cashwell also lists birds he dislikes: for example, he considers the starling to be a nuisance that has driven other species to the brink of extinction. He credits the starling's existence in the U.S. to Eugene Schieffelin, who, in 1890, released at least 60 of these birds in Central Park because they were mentioned in Shakespeare. The author has birded in his own backyard, in many other states and in Scotland. In a touching anecdote, Cashwell recounts how a difficult Christmas holiday was transformed by the sight and sound of a great horned owl. This is an unusual and engrossing rumination on birding. B&w illus. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-1-58988-001-6
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