Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder: A Memoir

Douglas & McIntyre. Oct. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781771622486. pap. $18.95. SCI
Feeling anxious and unfulfilled, journalist Zarankin discovered birding and it changed her life. Through bird watching, she found self-acceptance, became more spontaneous, and was able to forgive herself for mistakes. Her birding started tentatively, but a year or so later began gathering momentum—she invested in better binoculars, went on early mornings outings, diminished her fear of the outdoors, and a slowly grew a bird list. She describes how more experienced birders welcomed her into their world, uncritically and nonjudgmentally, and facilitated her passage to a better life. Zarankin admits that she is no bird expert and had to overcome “birdsplaining” or insecurity induced protestations of bird knowledge to others. Finding that every bird outing didn’t result in sighting the intended or coveted bird, she realized that meaning can just be in the experience of the moment.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in birds, the subculture of bird-watching, and stories of personal discovery and change.
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