The fastest growing outdoor activity in the country might surprise you. It's not hiking, cycling, or even running marathons.
In Elizabeth Rosenthal's compelling biography Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, she tells the story of a young boy of German-Polish immigrants, who, born in 1908 when many bird populations were in danger of being wiped out, grew up to become responsible for making birdwatching the most popular outdoor activity in America. Rosenthal's enthralling, yet unbiased, account of Peterson's life also tells the story of avian conservation in the twentieth century. Peterson, known for his numerous Field Guides, was also a talented artist, photographer, prolific writer, teacher and naturalist.
From interviewing dozens of Peterson's family members, friends, and colleagues, we learn about Peterson the ornithologist, husband, father, and friend; about his strengths, shortcomings, successes and failures. His passion for birding and nature is evident in the following quote.
"Many men go through life as though they wore horse binders or were sleepwalking. Their eyes are open, yet they see nothing of their many neighbors. Their ears, attuned to motorcars and traffic, seldom detect the music of nature—the singing of birds, frogs, crickets, or the wind in the leaves. These men, biologically illiterate, often fancy themselves well informed, perhaps sophisticated. They know business trends, or politics, yet haven't the faintest idea of 'what makes the world go around.'"
Birdwatcher is a great read for anyone interested in nature conservation, ecotourism, and of course, birds.