Book Review: Good Birders Don’t Wear White, by Lisa WhiteReviewed by Stephen J. Bodio April 15, 2008
Good Birders Don’t Wear White and Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die are both guides of a sort, unlike A Summer of Birds. Good Birders is the more practical, full of hints that can make you a better birder, with humor, compiled by a list of birding stars. Some of the hints are common sense: clean your optics; bigger magnification is not better; take notes; have good manners; keep a calendar. Others are more esoteric, at least to me; I didn’t know that waving a white rag will flag in sea ducks and the big grebes. I hadn’t thought about the details of introducing children to birds, though I found it interesting that, as Laura Erickson suggests, both my son and I were started with “real” guides as kids.
One caveat: although I completely agree with Pete Dunne that it is best to “use good equipment” (and I thank him for, many years ago, giving me my first great pair of binoculars, which I still use), I fear that too much commodification is happening in our beloved pastime. Tours to exotic places are now a given; a weekend winter drive through any refuge will reveal 50 fancy sport-utility vehicles disgorging birders with spotting scopes that cost as much as a used car. When a set of tips for digital photography says that “you can get started in digital photography with an investment of two thousand dollars or even a bit less,” I worry. Perhaps better to go with the chapters on “Dump the Gear” and “Let Birds Help You Escape to Paradise”: home.
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