Monday, November 11, 2013

101 Ways to Help Birds

How it took me a gazillion years to get my hands on a copy of 101 Ways to Help Birds is beyond me. I'm not sure how I wasn't aware of it's existence; or if I was, how I didn't have a copy (or three).

Laura Erickson has put into words the fleeting thoughts that have slipped in and out of my consciousness for as long as I can remember: I want to help birds. I want to do as much as I can. I want to live in such a way that I take only pictures and leave only footprints... but we have to brush our teeth, and make a living, so... baby steps.

The book is divided into cohesive sections that walk you through your own life. A topic is addressed; a suggestion made. Factoids, history, big picture context is presented to accompany the point: the information is neither so overwhelming nor depressing that it feels like the end of the world (no sense of impending doom), but it is not sugar coated, either. Of course, every section could be a book unto itself, so keeping the information thorough and concise must have been a tremendous challenge; folks wishing to delve deeper on these topics may also wish to check the book's site (there's a DDT update worth consideration).

It's like No Impact Man - but the connections all lead back to birds. I'd read No Impact Man a few years ago and was wondering why birders didn't see the connections. It was a bit more preachy and assumed that folks could afford the changes; 101 Ways doesn't make you feel guilty for only being able to make little changes here and there, it makes you ponder the options under your nose without the sense of "MY LIFE HAS BEEN ALL WRONG" that some conservation minded books seem to imply.

Indispensable. For everyone. And with an excellent reference collection in the back.

Five stars.

Disclaimer: Laura Erickson is someone I had heard of, sort-of-knew on Facebook, and then visited us during her Conservation Big Year; we clicked, we nerded out, she bestowed upon us a copy of her National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America (an excellent 'hook' book - doesn't cover all species in the area, but is user friendly and certainly appropriate for non-birding audiences!) and next thing I know, there's a copy of 101 Ways in the mail for me.

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