This year, for Christmas, I received two books: Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson and Birding Without Borders by Noah Strycker. I decided to start off my 2019 reading challenge with Birding Without Borders (I’m aiming for 16 books this year). Miles and I love birds and bird watching. We’re more interested in birds of prey and waterfowl than anything else, but we enjoy watching all birds. I forget how I stumbled on Birding Without Borders, but it wound upon my Amazon wish list one way or another.
I’m not normally a non-fiction reader and when I do read non-fiction, I tend to read it very slowly. I did stop reading this for a few days after I started, but once I got going, I finished it in three days. The book was hilarious, informative, and well-paced. The author, Noah Strycker, has written articles and books about birds before and is an associate editor at Birding Magazine. (You can check out more of his previous pieces and current events at his website.)
Birding Without Borders (plus some thoughts)
Birding Without Borders is about Strycker’s 365 day trip around the world to see 5,000 species of birds–about half the species in the world. (The exact number varies depending on what checklist you use. Cornell University updates the Clements Checklist with 10,365 birds. In Europe and other areas of the world, they use the International Ornithological Congress, which recognizes 10,612 species.)
He started in Antarctica, hoping to see a Gentoo or Chinstrap penguin to start his year off with. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t, but he still managed to start off with a Cape Petrel, which he took as a good sign.) From Antarctica, he went to South America, Central America, across the United States, to Iceland, across Europe, up and down Africa over to India and did a mad hop across Asia and Malaysia before going down to Australia and New Zealand. To end off the year, he hopped back up to India. By the time his trip was done, he saw 6,042 species. Inspiring, isn’t it?
(I may or may not be trying to convince Miles we need to go to Ecuador and Costa Rica because of this book.)
Strycker’s thoughts on the state of the world and its ecosystems are comments, really. I don’t call his thoughts statements or anything for a reason. He actively tries to impress upon readers that his thoughts on global warming and habitat loss are merely his observations. He doesn’t try to start a fight or debate, which I appreciated.
Ultimately, I think this book is worth a read for anyone who loves birds or loves nature or even loves to travel. It’s humorous, honest, and humbling, really. If you read it, let me know! I’d love to know what other people think about this book.