Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jane: Two books about birds

I've read two interesting books recently--each unique and enjoyable. And each not just about birds. They're also the kinds of books that I read a bit more slowly because I'm savoring the wonderful writing. Then I finish and think "I wish I'd written that."
Birdology by Sy Montgomery was a delight to read. Montgomery is also a children's book author, and she wrote about looking for animals and birds in Papua New Guinea at a time when Eli was fascinated by that country.

This book has chapters about different birds, about Montgomery's relationships to those birds and her research on them. It's very essayistic, with Montgomery relating her experiences and reflections on her encounters with these birds. I especially loved the chapters on chickens (she raises them), cassowaries, and hawks. Her enthusiasm is catching--I'd love to meet her.
I also read Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I just stumbled upon this book, spotting it in one of the shelves at the public library (the 500's of course). Being a crow fan myself, I picked it up.

Haupt has worked for Audubon and has written on birds before. Although she also uses an essayistic approach, telling of her decision to become an urban naturalist after scorning the "urban" aspect for a long time, she has a different persona from Montgomery. She's more judgmental and political in her approach, bringing up the devastating choices humans make that have devastated our planet. Still, I liked it, because I sometimes feel that way, too.

She chose to write about crows since they are ubiquitous in her urban neighborhood, and following them would give a good insight on how nature and human development intersect. She's all for us becoming aware of how we humans are part of--yet also tend to destroy--nature. I like the way she encourages all of us city-dwellers to become urban naturalists. She even has a chapter where she gives advice on how to do this.

I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys considering our relationship to other creatures and the natural world. Plus, it's a great way to learn more about birds.

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