A one-of-a-kind guide to birding locally that encourages readers to slow down and notice the spectacular birds all around them.
Many birders travel far and wide to popular birding destinations to catch sight of rare or "exotic" birds. In Slow Birding, evolutionary biologist Joan E. Strassmann introduces readers to the joys of birding right where they are.
In this inspiring guide to the art of slow birding, Strassmann tells colourful stories of the most common birds to be found in the United States – birds we often see but might not have considered deeply before. For example, northern cardinals thrive in the city, where they are free from predators. White brows on a male white-throated sparrow indicate that he is likely to be a philanderer. This essential guide to the fascinating world of common, everyday birds features:
- detailed portraits of individual bird species and the scientists who have discovered and observed them
- advice and guidance on what to look for when slow birding, so that you can uncover clues to the reasons behind specific bird behaviours
- bird-focused activities that will open your eyes more to the fascinating world of birds
Slow Birding is the perfect guide for the birder looking to appreciate the beauty of the birds right in their own backyard, observing keenly how their behaviours change from day to day and season to season.
Joan Strassmann has been a slow birder all her life. She is an award-winning teacher of animal behaviour, first at Rice University in Houston and then at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is Charles Rebstock professor of biology. She has written more than two hundred scientific articles on behaviour, ecology, and the evolution of social organisms. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has held a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives with her husband in St. Louis, Missouri.
– St. Louis Post Dispatch Top 10 Books by Local Authors of 2022
"After a frantic year, it's time for Slow Birding [...] For a slow birder, the payoff is not a longer life list, but connecting with and gaining insight into our inner circle of everyday birds."
– New York Times
"Gently readable [...] Exploring how science is used to answer questions about familiar birds is this book's particular magic."
– Wall Street Journal
"For those of us who enjoy the birds in our backyard, Joan Strassmann's book is a must. It is much more than the usual guide to identification and distribution. It delves into the science, adding to our knowledge of each bird's behavior, biology, and special adaptations."
– Frans de Waal, author of Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist
"For the last four decades Joan Strassmann has been doing cutting-edge work in the area of animal behavior and evolution. Now she aims that expertise at birds in her (and your) backyard. Strassmann makes a compelling case for slowing down and savoring the feathered wonders all around us."
– Lee Alan Dugatkin, PhD, author of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) and Power in the Wild
"Like all the best nature books, Slow Birding is about much more than its titular topic. Yes, it is about birding, but it is also about history, geography, psychology – and most of all, how to see, really see, the ordinary things around you. Slow Birding will show you your own backyard as you have never seen it before."
– Marlene Zuk, professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, University of Minnesota, author of Paleofantasy and Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test
"There are birders who race around trying to see as many species as possible, and there are birders who are more interested in the behavior and history of the birds they see every day. Joan Strassmann is one of the latter, and here in Slow Birding she provides a manifesto of this approach. Reading this book will convince you to follow Strassmann's suggestion and pull out a lightweight, easily carried chair, sit down with your binoculars, and watch; you may never bird the fast way again."
– Walt Koenig, retired senior scientist, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
"Just as a course in art appreciation can enhance your visit to a museum, slow birding can enhance your time with birds. Slow Birding is a book to appreciate and return to."
– Ellen Ketterson, distinguished professor of biology, Indiana University, and author of Snowbird
"Slow down, birders, and savor the soap opera, all the sexual infidelities, sibling rivalries, inheritance disputes, and instances of parents playing favorites, unfolding right in your own neighborhood [...] Strassmann provides character sketches and social histories of some of our most commonly sighted winged dinosaurs."
– Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of The Woman That Never Evolved and Mother Nature