fileg (fileg) wrote,


I just finished reading To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession by Dan Koeppel

It sounded like a good bet for me, but it turned out to be ... I'm almost embarrassed to say this ... neither fish nor fowl.

While it was interesting enough, it was not what I expected or hoped for. The book is not so much about the travel, adventure or obsession of big list birding as a biography of his father and a dry history of modern birding with the occasional bird sighting used to anchor the the chapters.

His understanding of his father's need to build a giant life list eventually served as a means of father and son coming to - well, actually I hesitate to say understand each other, but to find some common ground to rebuild their connection. Perhaps if there had been any indication that either father or son actually *liked* the birds, I would have liked it better.

There is one incident that I thought some of you would find interesting. In a section about how difficult it is to have some sightings verified, they talk about a young birder who reported seeing the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (round about 2000.) This led to various recordings being made in the area, one of which seemed to verify that distinct tok-tok call. The expert dismissed this as distant gunfire, and the consensus was basically that the sighting was a well intentioned mistake as you can't see an extinct bird in it's old range. I'm wondering how they feel about that now!
Tags: birds, books

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