Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds: Notes from a Northwest Year

Overview

This captivating book pays homage to the powerful sense of connection that we earthbound creatures have for those that soar. Lyanda Lynn Haupt, an ornithological researcher and birding teacher, beautifully describes the wide-eyed wonder found observing birds. She muses on the much-tarnished reputation of the starling, the sexed-up behavior of male woodpeckers that drives homeowners crazy, and the population explosion of crows in Northwest urban neighborhoods. This notable debut by a talented writer reveals a deft...
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Overview

This captivating book pays homage to the powerful sense of connection that we earthbound creatures have for those that soar. Lyanda Lynn Haupt, an ornithological researcher and birding teacher, beautifully describes the wide-eyed wonder found observing birds. She muses on the much-tarnished reputation of the starling, the sexed-up behavior of male woodpeckers that drives homeowners crazy, and the population explosion of crows in Northwest urban neighborhoods. This notable debut by a talented writer reveals a deft touch, sly humor, and an engaging ability to share her bountiful knowledge of things ornithological.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Esoteric lore about avian life makes up the bulk of this informative and charming volume. Haupt, a former education director of the Seattle Audubon Society, has enjoyed a lifelong fascination with ornithology and with field observation in particular. Having worked in a raptor rehabilitation center in New England and studied bird life in the South Pacific, Haupt channels her hands-on experiences into appealing images and engaging vignettes. She also offers up a wealth of apt literary and well-documented scientific references about even the most common of birds. From the overabundant and much-maligned starling to the majestic and rare snowy owl, Haupt imparts her wonder at these airborne creatures: "Birds will give you a window, if you watch them," she writes. "They will show you secrets from another world." The reader is treated to adventures in backyard birding as well as anecdotes about birds cohabiting with humans, both as pets and as pests. The simple pen and ink drawings are a pleasing graphic complement to the occasionally powerful writing. Unfortunately, when Haupt strays from detailing her extraordinary knowledge of birds to elevating the rather mundane experiences of her family life to high philosophical import, her prose becomes precious. Still, both casual and more experienced birders, as well as nature lovers in general, will find this work both a resource and a pleasure. Illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Haupt, a former education director for the Audubon Society in Seattle, WA, writes knowledgeably and well about birds, birders, bird writers, bird books, and bird/people encounters in the Seattle area. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570613029
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books
  • Publication date: 1/9/2002
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 9
1 First Bird 13
2 An Invasion of Owls 23
3 The Presence of Birds: A Very New Life List 33
4 The Thrush and The Faerie 47
5 Cormorant Problem 59
6 The Birdwatcher's Book of Secrets 79
7 When Good Woodpeckers Go Bad 85
8 The Pacific-Slope Flycatcher: A New Species, Sort of 93
9 The Hidden Blue Grouse 103
10 The Secret Lives of Vaux's Swift 111
11 Winter Wren: Thoughts on Voice and Place 125
12 Sparrows as Mothers 135
13 One-Eyed Dunlin 143
14 Young Love: A Back-To-School Story 149
15 Postcards From the Mayan Ruins 157
16 Crow Stories 167
17 Bird Vision 181
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2004

    Birding Delights

    In the final chapter of this sincere work, Lyanda Lynn Haupt slips in a quotation from Stephen Kellert that suggests her own aim in writing this book: ¿People will need to rekindle their capacity for experiencing wonder, inspiration, and joy from contact with the natural world¿. Such delighted sentiment permeates the work as a whole. Her first chapter ends by saying, ¿Birds will give you a window, if you allow them¿, and this book looks at the moment when the shutters swing open. Her emphasis on human reaction to birds plays to her strengths as a writer. Some of her finest lines encapsulate the meaning of a visual impression while partially eliding the image itself: she writes of the snowy owl, after referring to the way every feature of its design is taken to an extreme(e.g., ¿impossibly sharp talons¿), ¿They are all we can imagine them to be.¿ Haupt¿s power and interest is less in physical description (although there are some vividly amusing analogies: the ¿scrunched¿ face of a Vaux¿s Swift makes the species ¿a little avian Pekinese¿). Instead, she concentrates on the kinds of emotion and thought which any individual bird encounter can touch off for a watcher. The limits of human understanding¿and the charms of those limits¿plays into a larger theme of the book. Haupt declares her intent to steer a course between the Scylla of scientific arcana and cold observation and the Charybdis of ¿response-ists¿ who attempt to experience and enjoy a world untainted by human names and knowledge. At times she can drift to one side or the other¿either in the form of occasionally rote descriptions of nesting habits or overly fanciful evocations of fairies¿and the relative success of the passages where the two impulses are balanced prove her own point. She conveys her delight in the way the Varied Thrush produces its distinct song as gracefully as she does her experience of the song itself. Ultimately, this book depends on an audience looking to evoke a joy previously experienced, to explore a familiar enchantment and comprehend it better. Haupt, as one who has worked to induce that joy in others, has an intelligent grasp of its workings and vagaries. Her book warmly invites others to share in her insights and, through them, re-experience their own delights.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2001

    Delightful book for birders and non-birders alike.

    Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds is a charming book filled with the joys and mystery of watching birds, along with easily digested and fascinating facts about birds we can see every day if we have our eyes and ears open. A wonderful read for a rainy afternoon. Perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list.

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