"You are a rare bird, easy to see but invisible just the same." That thought is close at hand in Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, as renowned naturalist and writer J. Drew Lanham explores his obsession with birds and all things wild in a mixture of poetry and prose. He questions vital assumptions taken for granted by so many birdwatchers: can birding be an escape if the birder is not in a safe place? Who is watching him as he watches birds?
With a refreshing balance of reverence and candor, Lanham paints a unique portrait of the natural world: listening to cicadas, tracking sandpipers, towhees, wrens, and cataloging fellow birdwatchers at a conference where he is one of two black birders. The resulting insights are as honest as they are illuminating.
J. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. He is a birder, naturalist, hunter-conservationist, and an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University. He lives in Seneca, South Carolina.