by Richard Gregson, Stackpole Books, Copyright 2013
Review by Mary Jewell
While perusing books at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, a rather small paperback stood out among the various field guides and nature writings. The title, Green Birding, spoke to the uncomfortable feeling we all get regarding the carbon footprint birders leave on the very birds that give us such pleasure. It is a good read, and has a lot of useful information without putting us under a guilt trip over the enjoyment of birding.
The author, Richard Gregson, a birder for over 50 years, is the President of Bird Protection Quebec, and is one of the early promotors of green birding. He lives in the Montreal area.
The phenomenon of green birding has been around since around 2008, and challenges birders to change their habits and do something, however small, to help bird populations. Birding is an immensely popular pastime, but the greenhouse gases emitted in order to add to our bird lists is causing a lot of birders to reconsider how they study birds. The author emphasizes that Green Birding should be enjoyable and rewarding, and recognizes the fact that birders (being birders) can make a difference by taking green birding to their own comfort level.
To that end, there are 3 aspects to birding addressed in this book:
List locally rather than travelling long distances for rare sightings. List by walking, biking, or paddling. Public transportation is acceptable. The author provides lots of tips and challenges. By the end of the book, the reader will be familiar with “Bigby” (Big Green Big Year), a “Big Foot Hour”, a “Big Green Sit”, and a “Walking Bigby”. A detailed summary of the author’s Bigby as well as tips and practical advice for planning are covered. There are also lists of blogs and online spots birders can utilize.
Patchworking, or regularly visiting a piece of land which can be walked or cycled. By covering the same patch year-round, detailed knowledge can be gained about bird populations and a surprising number of species noted.
Conservation and Citizen Science. Birders can be in the forefront of joining with others to protect bird habitats. A section of the book is also devoted to creating a green bird garden.
All in all, this book is a good resource. It is quite thought-provoking and can be applied even if a birder does not go totally “green”. The book is not available at the Carroll County Library, but a kindle edition is available at Amazon for $8.77. The print edition uses responsible environmental practices by FSC certified book manufacturers. If you would like to borrow my copy, just let me know.