Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Birders

Tales of a Tribe

by Mark Cocker

“Cocker offers a combined celebration of and apologia for the national passion for birding, which in Britain provides both the thrill of high competition and the bonding of a cult. . . . Persuasive, idiosyncratic, and often quite amusing.” –Kirkus Reviews

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date May 20, 2003
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3996-2
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book

For thirty years, journalist Mark Cocker has been a member of a community of fanatics who sacrifice most of their spare time, a good deal of money, sometimes their chances of a partner or family, even their lives, to watch birds. Now he offers what The Baltimore Sun calls “the most graceful, respectful and technically rich book on [this] fascination. . . . If you’re drawn to feathers, you must read this as a treatise of the best of the fancy. If you just like nuttiness, it’s a damned fine read.”

In Birders, Cocker not only introduces lay-readers to the venerable art of birding but shares some of the incredible tales previously circulated only among “the loop,” involving unforgettable–and sometimes deadly–encounters with everything from pipits, puffins, and plovers to border-patrol officers and horseback bandits. And then there is his personal journey, which began when he discovered a nest of pigeon eggs in his family attic and soon led to the fetishism of his binoculars (or rather, “bins”). Birders is “a combined celebration of and an apologia for the national passion for birding. . . . Persuasive, idiosyncratic, and often quite amusing” (Kirkus Reviews).

Praise

“Cocker is a descriptive wizard. . . . Through the sheer force of his enthusiasm, [he] manages to invest bird watching. . . with all the thrills and spills of extreme sports.” –Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

Birders is a marvel of classification, imagination and sheer, smiling joy.” –Kerry Fried, Newsday

“Cocker tells the story of his own and others’ birding exploits in accessible, energetic porse, laced with humor and packed with engaging scenes.” –David Gessner, The Christian Science Monitor

“The most graceful, respectful and technically rich book. . . . [Cocker] writes beautifully. If you’re drawn to feathers, you must read this as a treatise of the best of the fancy. If you just like nuttiness, it’s a damned fine read.” –Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun

“Witty fun. . . . Cocker tells of many devoted gazers with their own obsessions–and their own bird discoveries.” –Dan Morse, The Wall Street Journal

“If you are a birder, a would-be birder, or a person who wishes to understand a birding friend, Birders will enlighten and amuse you.” –Stephen Bodio, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A compelling and at times highly amusing glimpse into the obsessive behavior of a very distinct group. . . . The anecdotes are engaging, full of heroes and a few villains, near misses and moments of sheer enchantment.” –Alfred Alcorn, The Boston Herald

“The book is a delight, exuberant and fascinating. . . . Cocker is one of the obsessed, having gone abroad more than 60 times, he tells us, mostly in search of birds–but not so obsessed that he cannot stand back and serve up an amusing look at his tribe.” –Anthony Brandt, National Geographic Adventure Magazine

“Cockers memories . . . are often funny, sometimes tragic, but always suffused with nostalgia.” –Susan Hunt, Birders World

“In a delightful memoir cum essay collection, the author brings the reader into the sometimes obsessive world of bird watching.” –Booklist

“Between the layers of fascinating facts [Cocker] weaves a narrative that moves from the comic to the poignant and the tragic. . . . will delight birders, readers of natural history and anyone who knows and loves a bird-watcher.” –Publishers Weekly

“English author Cocker (Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold, 2000, etc.) offers a combined celebration of and apology for the national passion for birding, which in Britain provides both the thrill of high competition and the bonding of a cult . . . . Persuasive, idiosyncratic, and often quite amusing.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A witty entertaining look at the subculture, lifestyles, adventure, and misadventures of the consuming hobby of birding . . . A delightful, well-informed read for all with a bent for listing in nature.” –Henry T. Armistead, Library Journal

‘reveals the drama, thrills and swashbuckling excitement of birdwatching. It’s the best read for years. . . . Mark Cocker is to be congratulated for delving deep into the annals of birding to research and recant stories worthy of the Viking sagas or the Arabian Nights.” –Stuart Winter, Daily Star (U.K.)

“With a mixture of well-chosen anecdotes and self-deprecating humor, Cocker succeeds in making even the most hardened cynic appreciate his passion. . . . Birders is a stylish work in a long tradition of fine writing on the subject.” –Stephen Moss, The Guardian (U.K.)

“Intensely readable, often very funny, and for those who know or even live with birders, highly enlightening. If you’ve wondered what makes an obsessive birder tick, read this book and all will be explained.” –New Scientist (U.K.)

“Cocker is especially good at critiquing the poetry of his craft. . . . It made me smile upon the innocence of birdwatchers and upon birds, too, so well does Cocker’s prose bring them to flight.” –Andrew Billen, Evening Standard (U.K.)

“Fascinating . . . He has written the best account yet of the “tribe,” and its wonderful unworldly passions.” –Derwent May, The Times (U.K.)