This candid and humorous chronicle shows how one woman goes from casual observer to obsessive bird nerd as she traverses Louisiana's avian paradise. In Adventures of a Louisiana Birder, readers follow Marybeth Lima across her adopted state in search of 300 species of birds. Bisected by the Mississippi flyway and home to 400 miles of coast, Louisiana has a variety of habitats, which serve as a beautiful backdrop to this remarkable journey.
In birding circles, some devotees attempt what is known as a "big year", a bird-sighting challenge to identify as many bird species as possible in a particular geographical area over the course of one year. Lima's initial effort amounted to 11,626 miles in sixty-one road trips to log an impressive 280 species. But on a subsequent quest to exceed her record, she endures elusive birds, embarrassing misidentifications, and hungry insects in an effort to reach her goal. In the midst of these obstacles, Lima celebrates the camaraderie and friendly competition among fellow birders, from novices to a world-renown ornithologist. Requiring both mental focus and physical agility, birdwatching becomes an active sport through Lima's narration. She vividly conveys the elation over a rare species seen or heard and the disappointment when one is narrowly missed. An appendix provides the location and date of every species she identifies.
Lima's personal experiences are interwoven with the excitement of tracking down one intriguing species after another. She faces a near-fatal burn accident to her spouse, end-of-life care for her mother-in-law, and Louisiana's great flood of 2016. In the midst of these situations, her devotion to birding provides a much-needed outlet. "Somewhere in the roiling confluence of birds, locales, and human personalities," writes Lima, "the center of my heart sings with utter abandon." Adventures of a Louisiana Birder is the author's call to a deeper passion for and awareness of Louisiana's unique natural beauty and vulnerability.
Professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Louisiana State University, Marybeth Lima is author of Building Playgrounds, Engaging Communities: Creating Safe and Happy Places for Children and coauthor of Play On! Evidence-based Playground Activities and Service-Learning: Engineering in Your Community.