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NO SWEAT

The first myth: Birding is boring

The Verb 'To Bird'; Peter Cashwell; Paul Dry Books, $14.95

January 20, 2004|David Lukas

By now it's well established that bird-watching is one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic outdoor pursuits in the United States, but you'd never know it by looking at the rather staid genre of bird literature. Whether you pick up one of the countless field guides or tales of "my great birding adventure," you stop paying attention after a while, because the language is as interesting as having oatmeal every morning.

Into the morass come the lively ramblings of a bird-watching wordsmith, who finds humor in the misunderstandings that arise between those who eagerly watch birds and those who think that a falcon is only a type of car. Not even exalted poets escape the acerbic wit of Cashwell, as he winces at depictions of birds by Keats, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Cashwell's long-suffering wife, friends and colleagues fare no better in his incessant focus on all things feathered. This humorous book is bound to make birders feel more at home in their obsession and help everyone else better understand this terrible affliction.

-- David Lukas

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