Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding

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HMH, Sep 15, 2008 - Nature - 368 pages
2 Reviews
Beyond Audubon: A quirky, “lively and illuminating” account of bird-watching’s history, including “rivalries, controversies, [and] bad behavior” (The Washington Post Book World).

From the moment Europeans arrived in North America, they were awestruck by a continent awash with birds—great flocks of wild pigeons, prairies teeming with grouse, woodlands alive with brilliantly colored songbirds. Of a Feather traces the colorful origins of American birding: the frontier ornithologists who collected eggs between border skirmishes; the society matrons who organized the first effective conservation movement; and the luminaries with checkered pasts, such as Alexander Wilson (a convicted blackmailer) and the endlessly self-mythologizing John James Audubon.
 
Naturalist Scott Weidensaul also recounts the explosive growth of modern birding that began when an awkward schoolteacher named Roger Tory Peterson published A Field Guide to the Birds in 1934. Today, birding counts iPod-wearing teens and obsessive “listers” among its tens of millions of participants, making what was once an eccentric hobby into something so completely mainstream it’s now (almost) cool. This compulsively readable popular history will surely find a roost on every birder’s shelf.
 
“Weidensaul is a charming guide. . . . You don’t have to be a birder to enjoy this look at one of today’s fastest-growing (and increasingly competitive) hobbies.” —The Arizona Republic
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

I liked this book but it didn't make me into a birder. I really enjoy Weidensaul's writing, and he communicates his passion very well. I adored his other books. This one, however, was too much for me ... Read full review

OF A FEATHER: A Brief History of American Birding

User Review  - Kirkus

From Pulitzer Prize finalist Weidensaul (Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul, 2005, etc.), a popular history of one of the country's fastest-growing pastimes ... Read full review

Contents

2 Except three or four I do not know them
41
3 Pushing West
79
4 Shotgun Ornithology
107
5 Angry Ladies
145
6 Becoming a Noun
187
7 Death to Miss Hathaway
227
8 Beyond the List
273
Acknowledgments
315
Notes and Bibliography
317
Index
339
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About the author (2008)

Author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul, who grew up in the heart of the old Eastern frontier, has written more than two dozen books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds.

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