Ornithologist Noah Strycker Introduces Readers to New Feathered Friends in ‘National Geographic Birding Basics’ [REVIEW]

Northern Saw-whet Owl at Malheur Headquarters, Harney County, 12 October 2003
Northern Saw-whet Owl at Malheur Headquarters, Harney County, 12 October 2003 (Photo by Noah Strycker, Facebook)

I’ve always loved birds. Living in Southern California and coastal Massachusetts, I enjoyed watching big white sea birds like gulls and albatrosses soar overhead anytime we went to the beach. Later, when we relocated to Arkansas, I marveled at the huge blue jays that would dive bomb our cats and dogs and send them scurrying for cover. In New York City, sparrows built a nest on my apartment’s windowsill, and I checked every day to see if their tiny eggs had hatched. And then in Ohio, when we lived in our old farmhouse and owned some land, we watched all kinds of birds make their homes in the trees surrounding our property.

The point is, no matter where we live, birds surround us (although thankfully not in the eerie way Alfred Hitchcock depicted in his classic film The Birds). Even in the most urban areas, these airborne creatures are our constant connection to nature. This is a lesson ornithologist Noah Strycker learned early on in fifth grade when his teacher mounted a bird feeder to the classroom window. The birds he saw sparked his imagination and began a lifelong love affair with his feathered neighbors, and his fascination with them has given him a career and led him around the world. Now, in National Geographic Birding Basics, he shows us how all of us, regardless of where we may live, can become birding enthusiasts too.

National Geographic

The book is divided into seven chapters that show us how easy it is to get started as a bird watcher. He discusses the diversity of birds and how to both identify and understand them.

But then he takes us even farther and shows us that whether we want to leave home and have big adventures abroad like he has done or if we are content to simply watch birds from the comfort of our living room armchair, each method has its own advantages.

If you’ve ever picked up a publication by National Geographic, you already know that each one is jam packed full of wonderful, breathtaking photography and insightful, thoughtful information you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

This book, however, is also filled with lots of suggested activities to try that allow you to utilize the things you learn while reading through each of the book’s two-page spreads which teach us exactly how to go about birding.

Most of all, I love the sections of the book where Noah recounts the exploits he’s had while birding, traipsing about the globe in search of birds, but also encountering other wildlife along the way. He also sprinkles in healthy helpings of little-known bird lore to enhance our learning.

Whether you want to purchase gear or just use your eyes and camera phone to explore the world of birding, there’s just one thing we all have to decide. What type of birder do we want to be? (Yes, there are three different kinds, from the casual bird watcher to the full-blown ornithologist.) Whatever you decide, this book will help you get there.

Lively, passionate, practical, and engaging, National Geographic Birding Basics is an insightful primer that inspires us to look to the heavens in wonder. It is the perfect addition to any library, but also makes an awesome gift for the nature enthusiast and aspiring globe-trotting adventurer alike.

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About the author

Noah Strycker is an accomplished writer, speaker, penguin researcher, birding guide, and associate editor of Birding, the American Birding Association’s flagship magazine.

He co-authored National Geographic’s Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America and Birds of the Photo Ark, and has written articles for National Geographic, Audubon, and many other magazines.

He has written three other books: Among Penguins, The Thing With Feathers, and Birding Without Borders, which chronicles his 2015 record-breaking World Big Year, when he became the first person to see more than half of the world’s bird species in one calendar year.

Each year, he guides seasonal expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, spreading the joy of birds from pole to pole.

To learn more, visit NoahStrycker.com and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,

Noah Strycker
Noah Strycker

One of the world’s leading nonfiction publishers, National Geographic has published more than 1,700 titles, featuring such categories as history, travel, nature, photography, space, science, health, biography, and memoir.

A portion of its proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

To find out more about Nat Geo, visit NationalGeographic.com, like them on Facebook, or follow them on TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat.

By Noah Strycker
256 pp. National Geographic. $24.99

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TLC Book Tours Tour Host

Purchase National Geographic Birding Basics direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target | Walmart.

Prefer e-books? Check out these guys: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo.

National Geographic Birding Basics is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

Be sure to watch Noah’s TED Talk about his big year and birding without borders. We think you’ll find it as entertaining and engaging as we did! —J&H

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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