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The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession (Paperback)
Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest -- or maybe worst -- birding contest of all time.
Stefan Fatsis author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players Red-breasted nuthatches! Himalayan snowcocks! Spotted woodpeckers! Nutting's flycatchers! The Big Year is the Gumball Rally of birding -- a rollicking, nonstop, trans-continental adventure. Mark Obmascik brings the doggedness of an investigative reporter, the grace of an accomplished storyteller, and the compassion of a fellow-traveling obsessive to this alluring quest for avian supremacy.
David Allen Sibley author of The Sibley Guide to Birds Mark Obmascik understands birders, and in this book he has ventured bravely into the fringes of the hobby to report on a sort of extreme birding: the big year. It's the best and the worst of birding in one grueling yearlong contest, and you have to admire the rare passion and dedication that a big year attempt requires. The rest of us must be content with daydreaming about it, and this book will undoubtedly be the source of many daydreams.
Jeff Corwin wildlife biologist, executive producer and host of Animal Planet's The Jeff Corwin Experience The Big Year is big fun. A rollicking, feather-ruffler of a read, this uproarious adventure of three men who flew over the cuckoo's nest in their search for avian glory will have you cawing with laughter.
Kenn Kaufman author of Kaufman Focus Guides: Birds of North America If you didn't think that a bird book could be a gripping page-turner, The Big Year will blow you away. Mark Obmascik has captured the best and the worst of birding, the euphoria and insanity of bird-chasing as an extreme sport, in this vivid, well-crafted epic.
T. R. Reid Washington Post's Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief, regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and author of Confucius Lives Next Door Here's a rare species: a book on birdwatching that turns out to be charming, engrossing, and educational even for people who can't tell a mudhen from a magpie. It was so much fun, I didn't want the big year to end. When it did, there was only one thing to say: "Where'd I put those binoculars?"
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