Exciting Serious birders know in advance where major gathering grounds are for that season or week So at any given time they might be in of all places the New Jersey Meadowlands Who would think that location is one of the major sighting areas due to the seasonal bird migration paths along the ast coast Or the site of the week may be the Everglades or the Dry Tortugas in Florida Then it may be islands off the coast of Texas or Duluth Minnesota in the dead of winter Even Attu Island far out in the Aleutians is a special site And no matter how isolated the site you ll probably find a bunch of birders who got there before you In addition to the standard well known bird gathering areas competitors rush to rare
"bird sightings posted "sightings posted the internet These may be at someone s back year bird feeder or at a landfill And by the time you get there the birds may be gone At various times the birders travel by air auto canoe
bicycle or ven helicopter There are bird watching boat cruises likeor ven helicopter There are bird watching boat cruises like watching xcursions It costs money to do all this traveling One wealthy competitor spent 65000 that year mostly on his 135000 miles of airline travel But another spent only 5000 a loan from the Bank of Dad and often hitchhiked Not just the three main competitors but just about all the birding characters are men A lot are divorced Is it the birds or the competition that attracts these men to this sport Is it a sport Is the divorce thing cause or ffect Divorced men have time to bird and freedom to do so But men absent from home on all the holidays with or without kids does not bode well for a marriage The serious competitors will be on the road birding than 200 days a year and maybe close to 300 Or it could be the personality type that starts it One competitor s wife told the author she had a friend who warned her against marrying the guy saying if Dale Carnegie had ver met him he would simply have given up There is a lot of other humor in the book When one birder is impatient to get flat fixed out in the wilderness the mechanic took his time fixing
The Flat Even In Aflat Even in a mph wind locals could smell desperation In the late 1950 s Nevada state fish and game commissioners worried about a nagging problem they had thousands of suare miles of open space but nothing to kill in it A good read I njoyed learning about something I knew nothing about And thanks to my sister for sending me this book Top photo of migrating birds along the Texas Gulf coast from smithsonianmagcomAir photo of the New Jersey Meadowlands from Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life environmentalgeographyfileswordpresscomThe author from cdnskyhinewscom An awesome book It took recommendations from several friends before I finally decided to give this book a try The subject matter seemed so uninteresting to meWhen you re wrong you re wrong and I was totally off base on this one It was fascinating from start to finish What I realise now is that books like this one which document someone s obsession doesn t have to be the author s often turn out to be completelyngrossing if the author as Obmascik does succeeds in conveying the inherent Crazy Love excitement in a topic that gave rise to the obsession in the first placeNever thought I would say it about a book related to birding but I just cannot give this book a highnough recommendation For those of you who haven t seen the charming movie adaptation of this ually charming book the Big Year is a competition in which birders try to spot as many species of bird as they possibly can in the US and Canada in one calendar year Note that I use the term birder as opposed to bird watcher In the movie Steve Martin s character bristles when his co workers use the term bird watching but the book xplains the difference I am a birdwatcher I own a field guide and I use it to identify all the species that land on my deck I let the birds come to me A birder goes out to find the birds And Big Year contestants will spend a fortune of money seeing birds wherever and however they can whether by boat by helicopter What a thoroughly ntertaining book It was a strange subject bird watching but the dedication single mindedness and obsession of the individuals is both scary and admirable I have always njoyed watching birds but will not be trying for a big year myself but I will notice and maybe ven make a note of the birds I know see The book also prove we can make a contest out of just about anything I think veryone would find something to like about this book. S one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ver to be bested Here prize winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling fun narrative of the 275000 mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest or maybe worst birding contest of all tim.
Mark Obmascik Ê 3 charactersSo on Thanksgiving while we were waiting for the Turkey to finish Robin wanted to watch a movie and we picked The Big Year Robin Sarah and I had seen it years ago but it was a new pick for James and Rebecca After dinner we went up to Red Gate a fire road near our house that s in the Shenandoah Forest and went birding There wasn t much out but we had a lot of fun Ruth our Grandpuppy got a scent and James and Sarah had to chase after "Her But She Had "but she had great time I think we got 5 birds that daySince then I ve been reading this book a bit very night I m really njoying itand my new found hobby of birding I m up to 40 birds I find one of the most njoyable things about this book is how I feel when I m out in the woods or just walking my land and I feel that same sense of New Plant Parent: Learn the Ways of Plant Parenthood excitement when a bird I ve never seen before comes into viewI ve added High Island Texas to my list of places to visit It s neither high nor an island but it s a great stopping off point for many birds flying across the Gulf of Mexico during migration And yeah there are species who follow the land who have to avoid raptors but a good number are built forndurance and take the over water route The topic of the big year is really uite compelling and I thought this book would take its place on my shelf right next to The Orchid Thief in the section reserved for obsessives who focus solely on one aspect of the natural world and seek that single thing with complete devotion Unfortunately the writing in this book is nowhere near the uality of The Orchid Thief and doesn t deserve a spot on my shelf at all First the good things The three birders featured are Dreaming Me: An African-American Woman's Buddhist Journey exactly right for the book The author sort of succeeded in teaching the reader about birds theirnvironment and birding He s about 70 percent there Most importantly he clearly xplains why 1998 is the year that MUST be covered ven though it was a decade ago But the writing He needs to learn how to describe an animal without using ANY references to pop culture He needs to understand that in a book about birding the reader does NOT want constant references to media and commercialization Here are specific xamples of bad writing that distracted me so much I almost didn t finish the book 1 The pygmy owl weighed less than a pack of cigarettes Is the author a heavy smoker with no concept of the fact that
Most Nature Lovers His Market For The Book Think Smokingnature lovers his market for the book think smoking disgusting It s specially disgusting in nature Now he has combined in my mind the image of a cute little owl in a tree with a rude creep blowing smoke next to the owl s tree with a disgusting overflowing ash tray next to him There are SO many other far less distasteful ways to describe the owl s weight 2 the keel billed toucan that screeching big honkered bird made famous by Froot Loops I almost threw the book across the room right here I am mortally offended that the author thinks I or anybody lse who would buy this book might not remember what a toucan is without a crass comparison to a stupid commercial for a repulsive product that nobody should be ating anyway This is a book about BIRDS I really really don t want to be reminded of commercials And The Lost Art of Reading Natures Signs everybody buying this book knows what a toucan is Don t worry we re not complete idiots Also the word honker is unnecessarily disrespectful Toucans have beautiful and correctly sized beaks and there is no need to use a disparaging fifth grade insult such as honker Things like this make me think the author doesn t like birds That is a serious problem for an author writing a birding book 3 The yellow rail was the Greta Garbo of the bird world This means nothing to me I know she was a movie star 1950s 60s 40s but that s thextent of my knowledge That is the crux of the problem When an author relies on constant references to outdated movie stars to xplain a concept he leaves behind all the readers who don t share his media obsession Five sentences later the yellow rail would never win any Miss Congeniality contests Is this an unnecessary reference to that stupid movie years ago by the same name Or is the author being mean and insulting to birds again 4 Maybe this really was a Bud Light commercial Please leave all the commercials out of the birding book Likewise please note brand names cheapen a book they don t add authenticity or flavor or whatever it is that some inexperienced teachers call it in their writing classes The following brand name plugs all insulted me in the Every January 1 a uirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive vent called a Big Year a grand xpensive and occasionally vicious 365 day marathon of birdwatching For three men in particular 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North Ame. Hort space of just ten pages Snickers Wal I doubt anyone would ver guess that I d read this book I found it on the clearance table at Barnes Noble and since I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket I thought why not I am 100 pages into the book It is part memoir part travel xpedition part field guide and part history I found it interesting that James Audubon started out on his birding journey from right here in Cincinnati Ohio I m surprised that s not played up around here I chuckled
Just A Few Pagesa few pages when it described warbler s neck Komito tilted back his head to scan the highest mesuite branches His neck was so accustomed to this xercise that it had bulged in size from fourteen and a half inches to seventeen inches Among birders this peculiar condition was known as warbler neck spending too much time looking up at treetops for darting songbirds That s when I knew I was hooked I may not have much interest in birds but I absolutely love learning about subcultures I never really knew What If existed Welcome to the world of Competitive Birdwatching Nope I didn t know there was such a thingitherAnd not to sound sexist but leave it to MEN to turn the gentle pastime of njoying our feathered friends into a pissing contestThis book chronicles the adventures of three men competing to get the highest bird count Mark Obmascik s style here is playful and almost conversational He really
"plays up the "up the among the three contenders I discovered however that I d much rather read about birds than about bird chasers I m generally content to observe the common species of birds sharing the habitat close to my home I can be thrilled by a robin feasting on fall berries barn swallows building a nest in spring hundreds of crows gathering in a huge pine for an vening confab or a winter wren singing his heart out putting on a concert just for me I do The Exhaustion Breakthrough: Unmask the Hidden Reasons You're Tired and Beat Fatigue for Good enjoy the challenge andxcitement of identifying a bird I ve never seen before but I ve never kept a life list and never willTo me the concept of competitive birding is absurd Birdwatching is not a sport People who race around the country checking off species as uickly as possible are not watching birds They are bird chasers We may as well put them on a reality TV show and forget about the Supplemental Book enjoyment of nature for its own sake as a meditative pursuit All that said I didnjoy the book I learned a lot about how the national and international birding communities operate and there s some fascinating information about birds and migration Chapter 9 was particularly Hark! The Herald Angels Scream excellent in that regard Obmascik also includes some history of famous birders much interesting than modern day fanatics There were three competitors for Big Year 1998 Al Levantin and Greg Miller seemed like pretty decent guys I found Sandy Komito so odious that I had a hard time reading about him and hisxploits He s one of those guys who goes out of his way to be obnoxious and offensive just to get attention and amuse himself I might have been impressed by his bird knowledge if he had used it for anything other than to stroke his over sized Colloquial Polish: The Complete Course for Beginners ego and outdo other hopefuls He had already won the Big Year competition several years before He could have stepped aside and let someonelse have a chance The author seemed to genuinely like Komito though while still doing a perfect job of showing what a complete jerk he was I am sure no one will be surprised that I LOVED this book It tracks 3 birders as they attempt to do a Big Year seeing as many bird species in North America that they can in a calendar year It is like Planes Trains and Automobiles but with birds and lots and lots of disposable income It sure helps that the author is a very fine writer and a seasoned birder himself Now I want to see the film version Here s a strange but fascinating world I knew nothing about competitive birding It can be fun but it can also be almost vicious Every year there are state competitions and a national one to see who can spot the greatest number of different birds over a calendar year There s also a non competitive annual Christmas day bird count The author interviewed the top three winners of the 1998 competitive birding year to come up with his story Part of the year for one man is written in a day by day diary He intersperses the tale with brief bios of other famous people connected with birding such as John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson who came up with the idea of field guides It s certainly. Rican birding record Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once in a lifetime rarities they brave broiling deserts bug infested swamps and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man This unprecedented year of beat the clock adventures ultimately lead. ,