Share Bird Alert: A Birder Recommends 7 Books to Someone Who Can’t Tell a Pigeon from a Chicken

Bird Alert: A Birder Recommends 7 Books to Someone Who Can’t Tell a Pigeon from a Chicken

Ben Loehnen, a senior editor at Simon & Schuster, is also a birder.

Bird-watchers, or “birders” as the more self-serious prefer to be called, tend to be readers. We all have our favorite field guides. Some of us even have our favorite books on feather molt and taxonomy. Here are books I would recommend to any reader, even one not in the binoculared set.


Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder
by Kenn Kaufman

The urtext for birders, Kenn Kaufman’s memoir traces the year he spent on the road to see as many bird species as possible. He was only 16-year-old, and his adventure is the stuff of birders’ dreams (and parents’ nightmares).

Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder
Kenn Kaufman

The urtext for birders, Kenn Kaufman’s memoir traces the year he spent on the road to see as many bird species as possible. He was only 16-year-old, and his adventure is the stuff of birders’ dreams (and parents’ nightmares).

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The Trumpet of the Swan
by E.B. White

A wrenching story about a boy and a cygnet from the writer who may be the greatest anthropomorphizer of all time.

The Trumpet of the Swan
E.B. White

A wrenching story about a boy and a cygnet from the writer who may be the greatest anthropomorphizer of all time.

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The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession
by Mark Obmascik

This caper is an ornithological three-ring circus: Three listers race against each other to see as many bird species as possible in the U.S. and Canada in a single calendar year.

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession
Mark Obmascik

This caper is an ornithological three-ring circus: Three listers race against each other to see as many bird species as possible in the U.S. and Canada in a single calendar year.

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Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds
by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Pigeons, starlings, crows—the beasts that birders tend to dismiss as “junk birds”—become the muses for naturalist Haupt as she explains the natural histories of our more common birds.

Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds
Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Pigeons, starlings, crows—the beasts that birders tend to dismiss as “junk birds”—become the muses for naturalist Haupt as she explains the natural histories of our more common birds.

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Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds
by Olivia Gentile

Legendary birder Phoebe Snetsinger redirected a cancer diagnosis into a mission to see as many of the world’s bird species as her mortality would allow. Gentile uses her story to explore the nature of obsession and drive.

Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds
Olivia Gentile

Legendary birder Phoebe Snetsinger redirected a cancer diagnosis into a mission to see as many of the world’s bird species as her mortality would allow. Gentile uses her story to explore the nature of obsession and drive.

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The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature
by Jonathan Rosen

No writer better articulates the psychic, spiritual pull that birds have on us than Jonathan Rosen.

The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature
Jonathan Rosen

No writer better articulates the psychic, spiritual pull that birds have on us than Jonathan Rosen.

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The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes
by Peter Matthiessen

Matthiessen’s journeys to see the world’s 15 species of cranes allow the reader to understand observation as conservation.

The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes
Peter Matthiessen

Matthiessen’s journeys to see the world’s 15 species of cranes allow the reader to understand observation as conservation.

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