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To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession Paperback – April 25, 2006
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“A lovingly told story . . . helps you understand what moves humans to seek escape in seemingly strange other worlds.”—Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak
“Everyone has his or her addiction, and birdwatching is the drug of choice for the father of author Dan Koeppel, who writes affectionately but honestly about his father’s obsession.”—Audubon Magazine (editor’s choice)
“As a glimpse into human behavior and family relationships, To See Every Bird on Earth is a rarity: a book about birding that nonbirders will find just as rewarding.”—Chicago Tribune
From the Back Cover
Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman
"A lovingly told story . . . helps you understand what moves humans to seek escape in seemingly strange other worlds."
Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak
"Everyone has his or her addiction, and birdwatching is the drug of choice for the father of author Dan Koeppel, who writes affectionately but honestly about his fathers obsession."
Audubon Magazine (editors choice)
"As a glimpse into human behavior and family relationships, To See Every Bird on Earth is a rarity: a book about birding that nonbirders will find just as rewarding."
- Publisher : Plume; Reprint edition (April 25, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0452285399
- ISBN-13 : 978-0452285392
- Item Weight : 9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.32 x 0.8 x 7.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #750,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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While To See Every Bird on Earth has some interesting inside stuff about the world of Big Listers (bird counters with thousands of birds on their list), it's really not about birding at all but about Koeppel's need for love and attention from his father, a physician and obsessive-compulsive smoker who loves counting (not just birds but license plates, cheese, beer and books) more than medicine and, if you can believe the book, more than his wife or sons.
Koeppel writes that he grew up in a mostly dysfunctional family, where grandparents push their only surviving son to become a doctor, mother and father do dope, and after mom and pop split, mom brings home a long series boyfriends the way some people would bring home stray mutts.
Even if you take what Koeppel says at face value and don't read between the lines, this book is one big long plea for love and attention from his father. It's Koeppel's all-too-public effort to understand why his dad is obsessed with reaching 7,000 birds or more.
And it's one of the saddest books I've read in a long time.
Richard Koeppel had grown up wanting to be an ornithologist. He had a particular love of birds and wanted to study them. However, his parents and his father in particular had a different vision of his son. So, Richard began his life studying to become a physician. He continued with his life long love of birds and went birding whenever he could. Eventually, Richard met the love of his life and married her. She was a hometown girl and was beautiful and was swept away by this man. Richard continued his studies and graduated as a physician. He now had responsibilities because his first born son was born. He didn't like the life of a physician, and he had various jobs that at leas paid him a decent salary. By this time there were two young boys and his marriage was going sour. He and his wife divorced and he never married again. He saw his boys on weekends.
Dan saw both sides of the marriage and was unsettled. He lived with his mother, and her boyfriends were sometimes nasty and abusive. She would also take out her frustrations on her sons. Life was not good. He would go birding with his father and this became fun for him. But he didn't get to see his dad often enough.
By the time Dan was ready to get to know his father better, Richard was on his way to identifying his 6,000 bird. The birding world is a different species. There were many people who love birds and there were 9,600 birds to identify in the entire world. People spent millions of dollars traveling to various parts of the world just to find that bird. This is when Dan started going on birding trips with his dad. His dad was now an ED physician which gave him plenty of time to pursue his love. He had been all over the world and was so pleased that Dan wanted to continue with him. He had a few more birds to identify and he wanted to make it to 7,000 birds. Thus began the quest for Dan and his father, Richard, to find the birds.
I love birds, love their coloring , their calls and their existence. However I have never been that much interested in identifying birds. This book opened up the world of birding, and these are crazy people in a sense. They will do anything; go anywhere to find that bird. I loved that Dan got to know his father better while they both developed their relationship birding. I learned a great deal about birds and that kind of life. Dan Koeppel writes well and his sense of nature reveals the world around us. Highly recommended. prisrob