Read: Flight Paths

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Turns out bird migration is a complicated thing. This fact is covered in Rebecca Heisman’s “Flight Paths,” a book I enjoyed immensely. Why does the blackpoll warbler’s summer grounds now extend three hundred and seventy miles further north than it did in 1975 and how the Hell do we know this? Well, I want to know, and if you do to then this book is for you.

Often times, when you crack a book about science it feels like dying of thirst in the desert then having someone hand you a plain rice cake to quench your thirst. Dry and painful.

Heisman, on the other hand, writes well making the content entirely digestible. The book is comprised of short chapters each detailing a key player in the riddle that is bird migration. It’s not like we still don’t have a lot to learn but what has been established is remarkable to say the least as are the people who have dedicated their lives to birds and bird conversation.

My neighbor just casually explained that he befriended and trained seagulls for a film he was shooting. I waited for the punchline but it turns out it’s true. He visits them daily still, and they ride on the back of his paddle boat often leaving their chicks with him while they go out fishing. So yes, the bird world is endless my friends.

Me, I’m now officially a warbler fanboy, a bird covered extensively in Flight Paths. Just learning what we already know would take a lifetime, but I for one find this incredibly inspiring. I don’t travel anywhere now without my binoculars and bird notebook. And people, I’m just getting started. If the bird world is interesting to you then buy all means read this book. Heisman’s work provided me with a subsequent list of other books, other birders and other organizations that will keep me busy for quite some time. And ya, I’d love to hang out with her.

Comments 6

  1. First a compliment. I really enjoy your videos and this page. I found you, I think, through a passing reference in a Ben Staley VLOG. Keep up the good work, you’re thoughtful and entertaining but since I’m from NY I understand your brand of humor (it’s called sarcasm!!).

    Be careful with bird books. Many years ago my wife and I read “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” and planned a vacation around seeing them in San Fran. We brought our binos, Peterson’s Field Guide etc etc and went to the location. Stood around for quite a long time before someone came up and said, “If you’re here to see the parrots because you read about them in that book, they haven’t been here for years. They left!”

    So we went to China Town for lunch.

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      Hey Bob, China Town lunch is worth a flawed attempt at birding. And thanks for the kind notes. Much appreciated. And I’m amazed that someone mentioned me.

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      Not at all. I thought it was well written and quite fun to read. And you detail so many other interesting people I feel like my reading list just grew exponentially. Thanks for stopping by.

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