Emeritus Bookshelf

Lifebirds

George Levine

Lifebirds

Rutgers University Press, 1995

altIn the best tradition of nature writing, Professor George Levine mediates on the way birds and birding are entangled with the most ordinary and the most important aspects of our lives. He is a "birder," not a professional ornithologist; but on his way to describing the entanglements of his birding activities with his work, family, and friends, he provides plenty of detail about the birds themselves. Lifebirds is primarily a consideration of the experience and human significance of watching birds rather than of the birds as objects of systematic study. It conveys a rich sense of the extraordinary variety and excitement of birding, the complications and subtleties of bird identification, the implication of birding in the imagination, and the ways in which the world of birds can parallel and illuminate the human world. While one doesn't have to be interested in birds to read Lifebirds with pleasure, Professor Levine attempts to seduce the reader into the birding experience through a series of autobiographical memoirs with birds at their center. It is aimed, then, not at the experts, except as experts may find in it echoes of their own birding enthusiasms and indications of how a journeyman experiences their more rigorously constructed world. Rather, it is aimed at those whose love of life has been or might yet be wonderfully enhanced by encounters with birds - visible in their backyards or in the wilderness - and their magical songs and glorious colors.