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How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 10, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Anyone can be a bad birdwatcher. As Barnes, chief sportswriter for the Times (London) and columnist for birds magazine, explains, the only requirement is developing the habit of looking. All it takes is the willingness to look. Barnes has written a witty and loving exploration of why people like to watch birds. Even the most jaded city dweller knows more birds than he thinks he does, and can achieve pleasure by looking at them. The more you learn, the more you will say, "Wow!" This is the heart of Barnes' book--the learning and the wow. In the midst of our looking, we are seeing birds as part of the natural world, observing biodiversity, ecology, behavioral biology, and evolution in action, without even knowing it. The love for these ubiquitous creatures that can fly shines throughout this work, making it a book that will be popular among fans of both birds and nature writing--and it is a bargain at the price. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Look out the window. See a bird. Enjoy it. CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a bad birdwatcher.

Inthis refreshingly irreverent introduction to the subject, Simon Barnes makes birdwatching simple—and above all, enjoyable.

Anyone who has ever looked up at the sky or gazed out the window knows a thing or two about birds. Who doesn’t know the brisk purpose of a sparrow, the airy insouciance of the seagull, the dramatic power of the hawk? Birds are beautiful, you can encounter them anywhere, and they embody one of the primal human aspirations: flight.

Birdwatching starts, simply, with a habit of looking. You let birds into your life a little at a time. You remember bird names as you would the names of people you’ve enjoyed meeting. And if you share your looking and listening with other people, so much the better. Birdwatching might even help you get along with the father who never approved of anything you did—as it did for Barnes.

As Barnes shares his relaxed principles of birdwatching, he also shows us the power of place: the elation of spotting kingfishers in Kashmir, hawks over the Great Lakes, or the birds closest to home. And he shows how, no matter where you live, birds can connect you to the greater glory of life.

Funny, enthusiastic, and inspiring, How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher demonstrates why you don’t have to have fancy binoculars or lifetime checklists to discover a new world. So, begin the habit of looking. See that bird . . . Enjoy it! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423559
  • ASIN: B000S9D51O
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,260,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
This is a very charming book.
Aneurin Ellis
If you are not a bird lover, you will be after you read this book.
Derek S. Chiarenza
I've already bought several copies of this book for friends.
a reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you have a little trouble getting my title;you'll surely know what it means if you read this gem of a book.I have been an avid birder for close to 20 years.In that time I have compiled a list of nearly 600 species in North America,met and birded with hundreds of other birders,made numerous friends,travelled far and wide, as well as locally,joined several bird clubs,served on executives,read hundreds of 'bird books';and own around 1000 books dealing with every aspect of birdwatching.With all that;I am pleased to call myself a 'Bad Birdwatcher';even though I had never heard the term before.

What makes this book so good is that it does an excellent job of telling what birding is all about,the many ways one can partake in it,and what attracts so many to it.In other words,if you want to see what birding really is or want to give a friend a book to find out for themselves,what this birding you do is all about;then you won't find a better book .

The author is an experienced birder from Britain,and quite a bit of what he talks about is birding in Britain.Don't let that disuade you as he covers a lot of other countries and everything he says is applicable to any country as well as very good for a rank amateur to the most seasoned 'expert'.

He also talks about something I don't believe I've ever seen covered.He explains the reason for this interest in birds and not other animals,insects,and other species.That's not to say that some people get interested in butterflies,mammals,etc.;but birdwatching outstrips them all.

"Anyone who has ever gazed up at the sky or stared out of the window,knows something about birds.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By a reader on May 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I can't say enough good things about this book. Lovely, lovely lovely; charming and thoughtfully written. And I've been inspired to be a bad birdwatcher myself, purchasing a pair of "bins" and a local bird guidebook and going out to see what I could see. And I saw much, including my first-ever tiny indigo bunting! I may be hooked. I've already bought several copies of this book for friends. Wonderful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rob Sheppard on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having once worked as a professonal naturalist and now working as an editor in the outdoor publications field, I loved this book. It brought me back to the excitement of being outside and just enjoying nature. Obviously the book is about birds on the surface, but it is much more than that, a delightful, fun book about the joy of nature that I enjoyed reading. I love Barnes writing style -- it kept me going throughout the whole book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sandy S. on August 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am also a seasoned birder and have traveled extensively and seen many species of birds worldwide. Upon reading this I realized I have been a "Bad Birdwatcher" all of my life - I just did not know it!

I did relate on many levels to what the author was trying to convey. But, while this book did have several inspiring moments, my biggest gripe is not in the content, but in the way the author sometimes relates that content.

The first half (and some parts of the second half) of the book seem to be filled with many obvious (to me, anyways) observations about humans and wildlife, and also one analogy after another - which came off as if the author felt like he had to condescend to another level to explain his thoughts to the reader. Example: When explaining about first learning how to identify birds, he likens familiar birds vs. new birds to watching your hometown soccer team vs. another team. Getting up in the middle of the night to use the loo vs. doing the same thing at a friend's house. Picking up your mother from the train station vs. having someone else pick up your mother with only a picture in hand. Speaking English vs. learning a foreign language. OK, enough!!! We get it!!! The author does this type of comparison in several chapters, and it gets quite monotonous and annoying rather quickly.

Still, you do get the idea that the author is very excited about sharing all of these birding bits with others (although part of me thinks the reason he drags on so with the analogies so much is to fatten up this otherwise short book), and there were some excellent laugh-out-loud moments.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Rust on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A terrific, funny romp through the process of learning to effortlessly enjoy what is right in front of us anyway, by an author who is great company--you won't want the trip to end. A book to share and re-read when you are in a bad mood someday.One of my favorite reads recently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aneurin Ellis on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a very charming book. The author uses simple idea to pull you up short. takes some very simple ideas and pulls you up short - the reason people wathc birds is that they are available (try looking for a wild mammal to watch ... now look for a bird. You get the point). As the book progresses it begins to reveal, almost as if by accident, the real reason for bird watching. The fascination of habits and diversity, certainly, but this also includes the joy of simply looking and the even greater joy of sharing it. A quietly inspiring book with a lot of laughs as well.
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