Cover Image: Learning the Birds

Learning the Birds

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Member Reviews

This is an utter delight of a read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rogers accounting of her birdwatching.
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I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review.  This book is the journey of one woman and how bird watching and bird watchers make a big difference in her life. I skimmed most of it, but did not find it a book that I wanted to read word for word.
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I loved Learning the Birds.   As a bird lover myself, Susan's descriptions of the birds were wonderful.    Watching her human  relationships change with the birds was fantastic!  Excellent book
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For most of Susan Fox Rogers' life she had noticed birds in the way that many people do, peripherally, paying little attention unless they were bright and close and loud.  In middle age, a beautiful birdsong coming in her window caught her attention and sent her down the road to discovering not only the source of that particular song (a veery), but also to developing a deep interest in all birds.  Told in essays, this is the story of her first few years as a birder.
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'Learning the Birds' is utterly charming. At the very beginning, I wondered if my attention would remain for 300 pages, but the book softly drew me in. 

I am British, living in the UK, but it's always a pleasure to read about wildlife in other countries and continents. Roger's narrative is a perfect balance of nature-writing, science, history, and memoir. She has a wry and often self-deprecating voice, and the personal elements never felt self-indulgent. 

The book is essentially a collection of separate episodes in Rogers' birding life, but more or less chronological in order, tracing the beginning and end of a relationship as well as her growing love and knowledge of birds. I suppose, in a way, the format is repetitive - but the writing is so lovely, and the life is so well-observed, that I really didn't notice. Here's one particular quote I hope never to forget:

"Until that dreamy day on a desolate road when a bird named Henslow's Sparrow appeared, I had not given the bird a thought... Now, its song tattooed to my heart, its fragile legs clutching the parsnip, I cared. If the Henslow's were my brother, I would call and text asking for news. Did they mow your field? Did you find a mate? How are the little ones?"
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