Top positive review
Fabulous for Avid or Casual Birders
Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2019
I have been a birder my whole life. I joke I came out of the womb in 1955 as a birder. Over the years, many people talked of the cult classic, “Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder”. Having completed two years of county “big years” (aka the Top 100 on eBird), I finally decided to read Kingbird Highway, and I loved it and related to everything Kenn wrote about.
I especially related to a statement he made near the end of the book. He was contemplating what he had really accomplished as he approached the finish line, knowing he or another birder would set the record for most birds seen in the country. He asked: “Had I accomplished anything? That was a good question. Maybe I had set a record—if it meant anything to set a record in a sport that had few fans, no professionals, and no referees.”
When you are doing a big year, whether locally as I did or on a national level, you encounter lots of other birders. Some share your birding ethics and integrity and others do not. As Kenn said, there are no referees. Luckily, the honor system involved in a big year is usually demonstrated well by most birders. Not everyone is honorable, however, and that can be disillusioning.
For me, Kenn’s final words at the end of the book really resonate. “Yes, it’s good to go on a quest, but it’s better to go with an open mind. The most significant thing we find may not be the thing we were seeking.” Like Kenn, I discovered after all the planning, studying, hard work, driving, gas money, etc., I want to spend more time enjoying whatever birds I find, whether new ones or old friends, rather than race around the countryside trying to find one I’d never seen before.
As he said, “any day could be a special day, and probably will be, if we just go out to look.” If you’re a birder, you will love this book and will be inspired to just go out to look. You never know what you might find.