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Being a Birder
on March 10, 2002
Birders are an odd, if endearing lot, and nowhere is this more apparent (and freely admitted) than in Pete Dunne's Tales of a Low-rent Birder. Since my interest in birding is only casual, the stories that took birding propensities to extremes, such as the hypothetical SVAT team (think SWAT for birds) composed of 4 quirky members who can't agree on anything and spend their lives tracking down bird sightings, and The Legend of Jesse Mew, a play on the guru followed by his adoring disciples thing, were a bit much for me. However, his story of finding, following and eventually pulling on a kit string that wound its way across a bird sanctuary (and thereby causing the entire bird population to take wing when the kite rose into the air) was amusing, as was his story of birding with Roger Tory Peterson. I also enjoyed his attempt to see the world through a peregrine falcon's eyes in "Peregrine Going South for the First Time," and his brief profiles of 4 birders who, though very different people, all share the ability to "see" as told in "A Gift of Vision."
However, none of these stories really hit home for me, meaning I didn't find myself reading eagerly with great interest (as I did with Kingbird Highway by Kenn Kaufman, or The Rites of Autumn by Dano O'Brien), or wishing for more once a story ended. In fact I kept putting the book aside with a feeling of vague dissatisfaction. Avid birders may have another story to tell, but for me this book was a disappointment.