This book covers birdwatching (or birding) from 89 different angles, starting with the issues of first taking up the hobby, and gradually moving into areas that perplex and enthrall the experienced birder. The collection has grown continually over the years, as columns have appeared regularly in naturalist publications, and now few birdwatching stones remain unturned. Some articles are humorous, while others are more serious, but all will entertain or enlighten anyone interested in birds and those that watch them.
Birdwatching - or birding, as its more committed aficionados call it - has a culture all of its own, something you'd never guess if you stuck just to the field guides. This book is emphatically not a field guide, but it could be the closest thing currently available to a guide to birdwatching culture. There's surely a need for such a thing, since the culture is a large part of the fun. Experienced birders will smile and nod their heads a lot as they read through this collection of 89 articles, while beginners will find themselves entering a world much richer, more thoughtful, and more entertaining, than they'd ever have imagined. Birdwatching is just as much about the watchers as the watched, and watching is the prelude to a great deal of reflection.
Why do people watch birds? Why is it so compelling? Can we ever get inside the birds' heads? Do birds do things for the sheer fun of it? Should we rescue the bird in the predator's talons? Why do birders refer to a bill rather than a beak? Questions spring up by the moment when you are watching birds. Sometimes they could be shared only with other birders - questions about the ethics of listing, for instance - but sometimes they could be shared with everyone, such as what it means to be completely in the moment.