Birding

An Exhilaration of Wings edited by Jen Hill

An Exhilaration of Wings

This is a monumental occasion. I have been reading this book for well over two years. It is a good book, but not a page turner. Subsequently I read this in little bitty bird bites. I celebrate it’s return to the bookshelf and it’s departure from my nightstand, backpack, luggage, desktop and wherever else it followed me. An Exhilaration of Wings is a series of themed chapters with quotes and excerpts for each chapters theme. Chapters such as Birds of Sea and Shore, City Birds, Migration and Birdsong are visited by well known naturalists of an earlier time. This book seems intentionally compiled to be using works prior to the emergence of the now very popular pastime of birding or bird watching. Discussions from the past of things unique then as well as still common themes now. Sadly there are entries about birds we shall never see again such as the passenger pigeon and the great auk. The passages are interesting, witty and insightful. Hats off to Jen Hill for her exhaustive research in compiling such a vast and diverse collection. I'm glad I finally was able to find the last page but feel like I've left an old friend
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The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Tim Gallagher

Grail Bird

The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Tim Gallagher is an exciting documentary of the quixotic search for a bird thought to be extinct in the United States, the beautiful Ivory-billed Woodpecker. It recounts the history of the bird and the almost complete distruction of it's very specific habitat. I'm reading a signed copy of the book purchased at an Essex County Ornathological Club (ECOC) meeting that Tim spoke at. His position as Editor in chief of Living Bird Magazine at the prestigious Cornell Lab of Ornathology might lead one to think he could be rather stuffy. To the contrary he is an extremely entertaining and funny speaker who puts his audience at ease. Seeing his self deprocating approach must have helped while in the deep south. I'm sure he was skillful at exploring a topic that some would rather not talk about. Saying you have seen an extinct bird can elicit some strange looks. This book chronicles that search and all the conviluted paths that led to his earth shattring sighting. As Tim himself inscribed on our copy of the book "The Ivory-bill Lives!"
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