Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Kingbird Highway

Reading this book has taken me on a journey that has changed my birding perspective forever.

I thought for sure that after reading this book I'd want to run out and start my own Big Year, but surprisingly it was quite the opposite. 

Here I am, husband of a terrific wife and the father of four rambunctious but wonderful kids, working two jobs in a terrible economy with the risk of needing a career change if things don't improve.  I'm stressed out and tired.  Aside from my faith, birding and blogging about birds has been a big part of my escape from reality where I can forget about my worries and cares and do something fun.  A much safer alternative to drowning my sorrows in alcohol I suppose. Following in Kenn Kaufman's footsteps, thumbing my way across the continent looking at all the birds I could possibly see and having all kinds of adventures along the way...that sounds pretty appealing right now...a chance to defer all my financial responsibilities and gallivant after birds that I only now dream of seeing...that would be the life!  At least that's what I thought I should be feeling after reading this.

This book reminded me that the birds are what I most enjoy about birding...Huh...funny thing.  Kaufman waxes rather philosophical in the waning pages and I was sucked into it.  I've been inspired to want to enjoy each bird I see so much more, study its behavior, know its color pattern to the most minute detail, to know exactly how each birds sounds, how it flies, and how and where it sits on a bush or know, really relax into watching each bird until I know it like I know myself.  Birding for me is a spiritual thing where I enjoy the finer details of God's creations.  Enjoying the variety of striking colors that I didn't know existed all around me is what got me into birding and is what I need to return to.  Kaufman also infused within me a deep reverence for the history of birding and birders whose fundamental skills I want to acquire.

I suppose I should get down to my review of this book, but what more is there really to say than this book has taken me on a journey that has changed my birding perspective forever.  You should read it too.

"Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder" written by Kenn Kaufman and published by Houghton Mifflin can be purchased here or from your favorite book store.


  1. Wow, you just made me want to read this again. I would imagine that Kaufman would be very happy with your reaction to his book.

    This is one of the best books about birding that I've read, and definitely tops in the 'big year' sub-genera.

  2. WOW! How is it possible that we had missed this post until now?!! I can't wait to show this to Kenn! What I love most about this is that I totally understand what you're saying; the book had exactly the same impact on me. But, boy-oh-boy, I had no idea when I read it for the first time that I would end up married to the author! Nope, I did NOT see that coming! ;-)

    Thank you for this beautiful essay, which is so much better than a simple review!

    all the best,