Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: What The Robin Knows

What the Robin Knows by Jon Young is built on two interesting premises:

  1. Birds are excellent observers. A lazy or non-observant bird is a dead bird. After all, their principle defense is flight.
  2. Birds are relatively easy to observe. Unlike most animals in the wilderness, birds are often easy to detect - if only by their songs.

The book then puts these ideas together and suggests: if you can learn to observe birds, then you'll be able to leverage their extraordinary observation skills to gain insights into the rest of nature.

Between Boy Scouts and my general love of the outdoors I've never considered this. Yet it's a delightful concept.

Young gives practical ideas for learning bird language and behavior and suggests how it can be used. And best of all, you can do it nearly any place, be it a secluded part of the woods or your back deck. Ideally you'd return to the same location day after day to translate what appears to be random behavior into anything but.

For me, this book is less about becoming a bird language aficionado, and more about reconsidering a walk in the woods. Instead of traipsing through without a care in the world (or worse yet, solely focused on covering miles), Young gives an alternative approach one based on taking your time and listening for clues as you go.

If you're looking for a fresh perspective on the outdoors, this book definitely offers it.

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