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How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 10, 2005
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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 simpleand 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 doesnt 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 youve 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 didas 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 dont 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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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.In this funny,inspiring eye-opening book Simon Barnes paints a riviting picture of how birdwatching has framed his life and can help all of us to a better understanding of our place on this planet."
A great addition to the numerous bird books,but one that is different and has something to offer for everyone;be they already a birder or just interested.
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. He also touches on migration, breeding, foraging techniques, habitats, evolution, and what we can do to prevent birds and other types of wildlife from becoming threatened or extinct (without becoming all "gloom and doom" - which I appreciated); these are all very important aspects of understanding birds and birders, not to mention the world in which we live.
Overall, this person cared enough to want to share his stories of how he became interested in birds and wildlife, and that's it's not such a foreign and inaccessible thing to the rest of us. Once you get used to his poor over-use of analogy and the occasional condescending tone, you see that he does mean well and has a lot to say.