Kingbird Highway

I am reading a book called Kingbird Highway by Kenn Kaufman.  In the 1970’s, he is traveling the United States trying to set a record, to see 650 different birds in one year.  He is hitchhiking and camping and has lost 35 lbs. It’s not surprising that the subtitle is The Story of a Natural Obsession that Got a Little Out of Hand.

This is the Preface:

“People always called us ‘birdwatchers.’  But if we had been, there would be no story to tell.

Nothing could have been simpler than ‘birdwatching.’ An activity that by name would have required nothing more than one person, alone, watching birds, any birds.  The birds rarely would have watchd the person in return: perfectly independent, birds had no reason to care about humans.  So the watching would have been one-way, and the matter would have ended there, with no ramifications.

But in the early 1970’s, we were not birdwatching.  We were birding, and that made all the difference.  We were out to seek, to discover, to chase, to learn, to find as many different kinds of birds as possible–and, in friendly competition, to try to find more of them than the next birder. We became a community of birders…

…This is the story about that time.  I was fortunate enough to be traveling throughout North America, in pursuit of birds, during that formative era.  It was a good time to be on the road, a good time to be very young, a good time to learn and travel and grow while we played this great new game called birding.”

If only that game could find its way to the foreground of an iPhone app.

Who will be the people who know about birds in the future?

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