Mark Cocker Birders: Tales of a Tribe

ISBN 13: 9780802139962

Birders: Tales of a Tribe

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9780802139962: Birders: Tales of a Tribe
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For thirty years, journalist Mark Cocker has been a member of a community of fanatics who sacrifice most of their spare time, a good deal of money, sometimes their chances of a partner or family, even their lives, to watch birds. In Birders, Cocker not only introduces lay-readers to the venerable art of birding but shares some of the incredible tales previously circulated only among "the loop," involving unforgettable -- and sometimes deadly -- encounters with everything from pipits, puffins, and plovers to border-patrol officers and horseback bandits. And then there is his personal journey, which began when he discovered a nest of pigeon eggs in his family attic and soon led to the fetishism of his binoculars (or rather, "bins").

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Review:

Cold, wet, cramped, exhausted, and having the time of his life, nature writer Mark Cocker finds deep satisfaction in bird watching. His book Birders: Tales of a Tribe combines elements of memoir, manifesto, and anthropological study in its examination of how and why these hobbyists go about their sometimes obsessive work. Cocker's writing is lively and compelling--even readers who'd rather stay warm and comfortable quickly find themselves longing for a quick glimpse of the Himalayan Satyr Tragopan. Following the adventures of the author, his acquaintances, and famous and infamous birders across the world, the book uncovers essential truths about human strengths and follies while sharing the rare pleasures of the close observer of nature. Watching birds is often seen as an eccentric hobby, but the value added to environmental monitoring and other scientific endeavors by these legions of amateur spotters is tremendous. What could have been a patronizing showpiece in the hands of a less sensitive writer becomes a rapturous celebration of quiet passions. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Mark Cocker is the author of an acclaimed biography of Britain's most colorful ornithologist, Richard Meinertzhagen (shortlisted for the Angel Literary Award), as well as Loneliness and Time and Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold.

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