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In this dazzling literary collection, writers explore and celebrate their lives with and love for birds – detailing experiences from Alaska to Bermuda, South Dakota to Panama. In When Birds Are Near, fresh new voices as well as seasoned authors offer tales of perseverance, adventure, and fun; whether taking us on a journey down Highway 1 to see a rare Condor, fighting the destruction of our grasslands, or simply watching the feeder from a kitchen window.
But these essays are more than just field notes. They expand as the authors reflect on love, loss, and family, engaging a broad array of emotions from wonder to humor.
As Rob Nixon writes in his essay, "Spotted Owls": "Sometimes the best bird experiences are defined less by a rare sighting than by a quality of presence, some sense of overall occasion that sets in motion memories of a particular landscape, a particular light, a particular choral effect, a particular hiking partner". Or, as poet Elizabeth Bradfield remarks, "We resonate with certain animals, I believe, because they are a physical embodiment of an answer we are seeking. A sense of ourselves in the world that is nearly inexpressible".
When Birds Are Near gives us the chance to walk alongside these avid appreciators of birds and reflect on our own interactions with our winged companions.
Susan Fox Rogers is Visiting Associate Professor of Writing at Bard College. She is the author of My Reach and the editor of ten previous anthologies, most recently Antarctica.
"When Birds are Near is an extraordinary exploration of the many intersections – strange, exhilarating, heartbreaking, transformative – between people and birds. The writing in this collection is literary cream, as uniformly superb as its insights are illuminating."
– Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind
"From gods to goddesses to indicators of ecosystem health, birds have been in our lives for millennia. We ignore them at our peril. We watch them with delight. This rangy and wonderful collection reminds us that human and avian sinew are entrained together in time. That we travel together along flyways of wonder, heartbreak, kinship and more."
– Christopher Cokinos, author of Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
"These essays rise from the page with a startling yet commonplace wonder in a time we need such glory."
– John Lane, author of Neighborhood Hawks