At twelve years old, Lev Parikian was an avid birdwatcher. He was also a fraud, a liar and a cheat. Those lists of birds seen and ticked off? Lies. One hundred and thirty species? More like sixty. Then, when he turned fifty, he decided to right his childhood wrongs. He would go birdwatching again. He would not lie. He would aim to see two hundred species of British bird in a year.
Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? is the story of that year, a story about birds, family, music, nostalgia, the nature of obsession and obsession with nature. It's about finding adventure in life when you twig it's shorter than you thought, and about losing and regaining contact with the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world.
It's a book for anyone who has ever seen a small brown bird and wondered what it was, or tried to make sense of a world in which we can ask, 'What's that bird?' and 'What's for lunch?' and get the same answer.
Lev Parikian is a writer, conductor and hopeless birdwatcher. His first book, Waving, Not Drowning, was published in 2013. His numerous conducting credits include the re-recording of the theme tune for Hancock's Half Hour for Radio 4. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.
"Funny and clever [...] and even a little bit gripping"
"Gentle and enormously enjoyable"
"Beautifully written [...] Parikian has a musician's ear for birdsong"
– Samuel West
"[...] There is great pleasure in reading about Lev's reawakening. [...] While I enjoyed the pleasure Lev takes in learning and recognising birds, it's the notes on his interactions with fellow birders that get you really immersed. [...] I found this to be a fully absorbing narrative, highly amusing and always very readable. [...] Yes, I have a new favourite, and this will take pride of place next to Kingbird Highway on my shelf, but importantly, this will be the one that I recommend to birders and non-birders alike."
– Paul French, British Birds 113, April 2020
"[...] This book will have a wide general appeal. Curious non-birders will be attracted by its humour and might be enticed into birding by it, while those already embarked on a journey of birding discovery will take comfort from the author’s stumbling progress, though some folk will doubtless find it too frivolous. So did he achieve his target and did he do it without twitching? I won't spoil it. It's a good light read. Take it to a fireside or sunny spot with a drink of your choice and enjoy it."
– Barry Gray, Ibis, 2021