The Bottom Line
Birding Lite by Stan Dryden promotes a “lite” hearted approach to birding with emphasis on the recreation and relaxation aspects of this hobby, while acknowledging that there is always more to learn and readers can take birding as far as they'd like. Acutely aware of its scope as an introductory book best suited for casual beginners, Birding Lite nonetheless offers a unique look at a fascinating hobby and what can turn a novice birder into an obsessive bird expert, all in a good way.
- Humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone is lighthearted and easy to read, and includes numerous quotes, Fun Facts and other trivia tidbits throughout the text.
- Promotes an easygoing, low stress approach to beginning birding to encourage birding as a hobby without being overwhelming.
- Resources listed in Chapter 10 include multiple options for continuing a birding education with many resources chosen from the author's firsthand experience.
- Topic treatment is occasionally too sparse with overuse of “more on that later” notes and redirects to later chapters that can seem disorganized.
- Lacks any resource list for comprehensive online references, though some website notations and URLs are included in the text when mentioned.
- Title: Birding Lite: A Humorous How-to Guide for All who Enjoy Watching Birds
- Author: Stan Dryden
- Publisher: Lightning Source
- Publication Date: November 2009
- Format: Softcover
- Page Count: 158
- ISBN: 978-0-578-04134-6
- Price: $12.95
Review - Birding Lite
For the casual, not-yet-birder who may have only a spark of an interest in those winged things called birds, most birding books can be intimidating with multiple chapters on specialized techniques, equipment, identification, travel, attracting birds and more. This much information can quickly dissuade someone from getting more involved in birding, but in Birding Lite, author Stan Dryden always sticks to his principle message - “you get to decide how far you take this birding avocation.”
While Dryden never discourages an obsession with birding, and readily admits that as you get more involved with this addictive hobby you may find yourself having more and more characteristics attributed to hardcore birders, he promotes a much more casual and minimalist approach to enjoying birds. This philosophy extends toward birding equipment, and Dryden's recommendations are perfect for a beginning birder on a tight budget or anyone interested in birds but without tons of free time to be obsessive about this hobby.
This slim and easy to read book covers a range of topics that might catch the interest of beginning birders but are often overlooked in more practical tomes, such as how birds get their names and the differences between right-brain birding and left-brain birding and how you can use your own tendencies to make this hobby yours. At the same time, the most popular and essential topics for all novice birders are covered, including:
- How to choose birding binoculars and other optics
- Choosing a field guide and different guides available
- Pishing and other basic ways to attract birds in the field
- Backyard tips for feeding, water, bird houses and bird-friendly landscaping
Despite covering these common topics, Dryden readily admits that some aspects of more advanced birding techniques are both beyond the scope of Birding Lite as well as beyond his personal expertise. He is able, however, to recommend additional resources throughout the text and in a more comprehensive resource section in Chapter 10 for birders interested in spreading their wings a bit further into birding.
Even though Birding Lite is geared toward the absolute beginner, Dryden's tips often hold nuggets of truth and practical advice for more experienced birders as well. Furthermore, the Fun Facts, bird-related quotes and clever anecdotes throughout the text make this book a worthwhile read no matter how long the reader has been interested in birds. Advanced birders will even smile when reading Dryden's descriptions of the more obsessive behaviors birders can develop, and they're likely to recognize themselves – or the birders they hope to be – in his pages.
No matter how much or how little you want to be involved in birding, Dryden sums up his approach and the casual birder's mantra perfectly - “You will learn and grow as a birder just by watching birds...it is all about enjoying what you do.” Birding Lite can help all birders, beginning or those who have been birding for years, rediscover just what it is they enjoy about birding and how to enjoy this hobby more every day.