Birders by Mark Cocker
Tales of a Tribe

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Since 1972 Mark Cocker has been a member of a community of people who sacrifice most of their spare time, a good deal of money, sometimes their chances of a partner or family, and even occasionally their lives to watch birds. There is the record-holding husband and wife who cross continents to "twitch" (spot rare birds); the disgraced "stringer" who takes desperate measures to falsify a spotting of the coveted black lark, leading hundreds on a fruitless search; and a group of friends who go birding in America only to be plagued by car trouble, drunk drivers, robbery, and an encounter with the border police. Birders is also an inspiring and heartwarming account of the author's lifelong love for his hobby, and the way it transforms him -- from his fetishistic love affair with his notebook and "bins" (binoculars) to his deep mourning for a friend who went missing when he followed the call of an elusive pheasant in the Himalayan mountains. Informative, touching, and astoundingly funny, here is the layman's invitation to share in an unlikely obsession. "Birders: Tales of a Tribe reveals the drama, thrills, and swashbuckling excitement of birdwatching." -- Stuart Winter, The Daily Star (London) "Fascinating ... He has written the best account yet of the 'tribe' and its wonderful, unworldly passions." -- Derwent May, The Times (London) "A stylish work in a long tradition of fine writing on the subject." -- Stephen Moss, The Guardian

About Mark Cocker

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Mark Cocker is the author of an acclaimed biography (shorlisted for the Angel Literary Award) of Britain's most colorful ornithologist, Richard Meinertzhagen, as well as Loneliness and Time and Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold.
Published May 1, 2002 by Grove Press. 229 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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English author Cocker (Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold, 2000, etc.) offers a combined celebration of and apologia for the national passion for birding, which in Britain provides both the thrill of high competition and the bonding of a cult.

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The Guardian

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Birders: Tales of a Tribe Mark Cocker 230pp, Jonathan Cape, £15.99 Sixty years ago, James Fisher, the David Attenborough of his day, wrote that "the observation of birds may be a superstition, a tradition, an art, a science, a pleasure, a hobby, or a bore".

Jul 28 2001 | Read Full Review of Birders: Tales of a Tribe

Publishers Weekly

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Like a tribal wise man, Cocker defines bird-watching jargon (twitchers, stringers, rarities) and relates stories of legendary figures in the world of birding to those outside the circle.

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Star Tribune

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at times it seems like a quest for life itself as expressed through bird song, bird movement, bird color."

Aug 17 2002 | Read Full Review of Birders: Tales of a Tribe

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