Birds are everywhere— totally unavoidable. In parks, in your backyard, even stray ones drift into stores. And their prominence has led to the development of a specific kind of person: the birdwatcher. Now there’s a guide for new or expert birders interested in perfecting the favorite pastime of … sitting and watching birds.
The tone of this book is set with the title: The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America. Author Matt Kracht obviously has an interesting relationship these animals, and his blunt attitude stretches beyond the cover. Each bird featured includes a notation about their common name, but Kracht also renames them. The White-Breasted Butt Nugget (White-Breasted Nuthatch) and the Western MeadowJerk (Western Meadow Lark) both make appearances, among a flock of fifty. Some of these work better than others, but they all serve for Kracht to degrade what he considers flying monstrosities.
Beyond just the names, this book is wickedly funny. Kracht embodies an individual with absolute disdain for all things bird. In his world, their only functions are to make annoying noises and steal food, and he won’t hear a word otherwise. Yes, it’s over the top, but Kracht mocks with absolutely infectious glee, almost goading the reader to challenge his view on why these aviary creatures suck.
Even with all the snark, Kracht is careful to load up on facts. He describes their calls, migratory patterns, markings, and includes accurate illustrations. However, it’s the sections that bookend the guide that are both insightful and suggest Kracht might have a softer side when it comes to birds. Here, he discusses the art of birding, picking proper bird feeders, as well as maintaining a bird jounal. His style of ridiculing the hobby and the animal is still on display, but it almost appears to stem from a deep admiration— he’s too cool for bird watching … but it’s still fun.
It’s funny, it’s crass, and as a particularly annoying bird would say, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”
Title: The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America
Author: Matt Kracht
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 02, 2019
Classification: Humor, Nonfiction
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.