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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A lot of people were "dropping out" in 1970. For some it was drugs, for others self-discovery, for others still it was just a good time. Kenn Kaufman dropped out to go looking for birds. Kingbird Highway: The Story of a Natural Obsession That Got a Little Out of Hand chronicles Kaufman's precarious existence as a 16-year-old in post-Aquarius America, hitchhiking back and forth across the country on an obsessed ornithological quest. His goal: to set a record for the most North American species seen in a year.
Kingbird Highway provides a rare and intimate look into the years that transformed bird watching into the popular and intense pursuit we know today. According to Kaufman, a leading figure in the field of birding, the early 1970s was the formative era during which "bird watching" became "birding," and the hobby changed from "a mild local pastime to a continent-wide craze." As Kaufman traveled toward one destination, a report of a rare bird would send him hitching nonstop to another location, Pacific to Atlantic, Alaska to Florida, Maine to Mexico, taking up odd jobs to support himself along the way. In a year, traveling more than 80,000 miles, he spent less than a thousand dollars, sleeping outside regardless of the weather and eating Little Friskies catfood when funds were low.
As Kaufman's bird tally grew, his wild and ambitious game became a journey of self-discovery. Realizing that at his breakneck speed he was "looking" rather than "seeing," Kaufman received an invaluable lesson that inspired a deeper understanding of thenaturalworld. A unique coming-of-age story, Kingbird Highway combines a lyrical celebration of nature with raw adventure and a colorful cast of characters, including some of the major figures in American birding.