Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Gift of Birds

Subtitled True Encounters with Avian Spirits, this book is a wonderful collection of meetings with birds.

From Ron Naveen's descriptions of visits to a chinstrap penguin colony to Terry Tempest Williams meditation on whimbrels, the shrinking of Great Salt Lake and her mother's illness these are beautiful moving stories of human encournters with birds.

It is largely a north American collection, so I'm unfamiliar with many of the species described. However the closing piece Kenn Kaufmann's Skylark sees the author travelling to San Juan Island odd the Pacific West Coast to visit the colony of introduced skylarks, one of my favourite birds.

'Once more I walked down to the edge of the tall grass, to the border of the larks' world, and stood looking upward. A single skylark was up there now, rowering on quivered wings, high above the earth. The song that came rippling and running and trilling down spoke defiance to raging seas and rockbound coasts, to the wintry cast of the sky, to the spirits of this northwestern island. It seemed then that even the elements must acknowledge this singer for the eloquence of his futile challenge. At last another skylark cane up to the west, and another off to the east; the voices rang down the sky, on and on, as if the song would go on forever. '

A beautiful collection of essays that any birder will enjoy and may well introduce a few non-birders to the joys of our feathered friends.

The Gift of Birds, true Encounters with Avian Spirits edited by Larry Habegger and Amy G Carlson, published by Traveler's Tales

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


sage said...

It sounds like the essays were taken from other books. Have you read Terry Temptest William's "Refuge"? It is a wonderful book--one of the finest examples of creative non-fiction--that links her mother's illness with the changes in the Great Salt Lake (at the time it was rising) and what it was doing to birdlife along the north end of the lake.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Sage, yes, you're right about that. I haven't read Refuge, but the book contains an extract from that.

eileeninmd said...

hello, this sounds like a book I would enjoy. Have a happy day!

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Vaughan Williams "The Lark Ascending" perfectly captures the song of these birds as they rise up into the sky. I'm heading out to hopefully see a couple this afternoon in what I call "The Owl Land"

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Eileen, I think you would indeed!

Simon - hope you get to see your skylarks today and yes, The Lark Ascending does capture their song perfectly

RG said...

Yes- do try to find and read Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge .. She is one of the all-time great nature writers and speakers around these parts!

As to San Juan Island .. it is one of the San Juan Islands that lie east of Vancouver Island .. and well east of the Pacific coast of Washington State! Part of the great inland sea we call the Salish Sea! I am not sure the skylarks survived, it could be Kaufmanns story was written some time ago.

The book sound great!

Rambling Woods said...

I will have to look into this book!.... Michelle