What do birdwatchers do when they aren’t birdwatching? They read books about birds and birdwatching! Here’s a short list of books by and about famous birdwatchers.
This is the biography of Phoebe Snetsinger, one of the most famous birdwatchers in the world. Married with 4 children, she started birdwatching at 34. After being diagnosed with cancer and given one year to live, she went on a quest to be the first person to see 8,000 birds. She went to the Philippines three times. Her first visit was in 1986 during the EDSA revolution!
This is Phoebe’s story in her own words. It was published posthumously using her original manuscript. In this book she describes in detail the thorough preparations she would make before each trip. She would study a field guide (or make her own if one wasn’t available) until she could instantly recall the image of a bird upon the mention of its name. She also describes her file-card system where she would record details about each sighting, including plumage variations, habits, and location.
This is a collection of articles written by Roger Tory Peterson for Bird Watcher’s Digest. In 1934 when he was 25 years old, he wrote and illustrated Field Guide to the Birds the first modern American field guide. The first printing of 2,000 copies his book sold out in 1 week. Eventually, this led to the Peterson Field Guide series that has sold millions of copies. He was a talented writer and the book shows Peterson’s lifelong passions for birdwatching, art, photography, travel, nature and conservation.
This is the story of how ornithologist Kenn Kaufman took a year off at 16 years old to see as many birds as he could in one year. He traveled solo across North America with very little money, hitchhiking and even eating cat food to save pennies. It is a great travel story, coming-of-age book, and account what it was like to be birdwatching in the 70’s when birding in America transformed from “a mild local pastime to a continent-wide craze”.