Friday, September 16, 2011

Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding by Pete Dunne

Pete Dunne is a New Jersey-based naturalist and director of the Cape May Bird Observatory with many books to his credit. The latest are Prairie Spring, Bayshore Summer, and Arctic Autumn, each of which features Dunne's entertaining and thoughtful observations of ecosystems in particular seasons. While birds and other wildlife figure heavily in the books, people are also a big concern. Dunne wants people to enjoy the outdoors without upsetting nature's balance. He also hopes people who make their livings outdoors (fishermen, farmers, and native hunters) can continue to do so. I have read and enjoyed books two and three (both of which I reviewed for Library Journal), plan to read book one, and await the inevitable book four dealing with winter. Where will he set this book? I long to find out, but in the meantime I have found another of his books, Pete Dunne on Bird Watching.

Being a very amateur birder, I can use lots of advice from Dunne. In his 2003 book, he drew from his decades of experience to address the needs of novices and experts alike. He tells how to attract birds to backyards with feeders and landscaping, choose binoculars and scopes, choose bird guides for the field and books for study, spot and identify birds, and keep birding records. He also writes about whether bird listening is bird watching. Most of his advice is timeless, but birders might enjoy a new updated edition that deals with aps for iPhones and iPads and expands his recommendations for birding websites. One of his central messages is one that will trouble loners like me. To really learn birding, birders need to apprentice themselves to experts, join clubs, and go on outtings.

Most people will not read Pete Dunne on Bird Watching straight through, as much of the text is instructive or for reference use, but each chapter starts with a story. Read the parts that interest you now and others later as you need.

Dunne, Pete. Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding. Houghton Mifflin, 2003. ISBN 0395906865.

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