"The thrill of quiet adventure. The constant hope of discovery. The reminder that the world is filled with wonder. When I bird, life is bigger, more vibrant." That is why Susan Fox Rogers is a birder. Learning the Birds is the story of how encounters with birds recharged her adventurous spirit.
When the birds first called, Rogers was in a slack season of her life. The woods and rivers that enthralled her younger self had lost some of their luster. It was the song of a thrush that reawakened Rogers, sparking a long-held desire to know the birds that accompanied her as she rock climbed and paddled, to know the world around her with greater depth. Energized by her curiosity, she followed the birds as they drew her deeper into her authentic self, and ultimately into love.
In Learning the Birds, we join Rogers as she becomes a birder and joins the community of passionate and quirky bird people. We meet her birding companions close to home in New York State's Hudson Valley as well as in the desert of Arizona and awash in the midnight sunlight of Alaska. Along on the journey are birders and estimable ornithologists of past generations—people like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Florence Merriam Bailey—whose writings inspire Rogers's adventures and discoveries. A ready, knowledgeable, and humble friend and explorer, Rogers is eager to share what she sees and learns.
Learning the Birds will remind you of our passionate need for wonder and our connection to the wild creatures with whom we share the land.
1. I Wish I Knew
2. Snow Bunting
3. Learning the Birds
8. Christmas Bird Count
9. Don't Move
10. No Other Everglades
11. Little Brother Henslow
12. Interlude: The Other Leopold
13. Good Bird
16. A Perfect Fall Day
17. Surviving the Winter
18. #1 Birder
19. Rusty Blackbird
20. Dawn Chorus
21. Little Blue
22. So Much to Learn
Susan Fox Rogers is Writer in Residence at Bard College. She is the author of My Reach and the editor of twelve anthologies, including When Birds Are Near.
With its whimsy and discerning intellect, this radiates beauty.
Rogers's memoir brought me into a season of discovery alongside her, and in many ways, I felt I was witnessing someone fall in love for the first time. Rogers's memoir will make a great read for anyone who wants to dip back into the first joys of birdwatching, and offers a beautifully written story filled with worthwhile information and insights.
~The Urban Audubon
Susan Fox Rogers' Learning the Birds: A Midlife Adventure is a treat for readers who savored When Birds Are Near, Rogers's 2020 anthology of contemporary birding essays. Her solo venture offers three intertwined stories: Rogers's initiation into the world of birding; a burgeoning romance between her and her birding partner; and a sustained reflection on what it means to be middle-aged. The author's perspective expands and deepens, and tonally the chapters range through inquisitiveness, euphoria, restlessness, lonesomeness and fulfillment. Rogers's ease with language often brushes against poetry, but the writing is grounded by straightforwardness and humility.
~Michigan Quarterly Review
Rogers's engaging essays offer something for everyone. Active birders can relate to the rigorous study and dedication necessary to gradually master an appreciation of the natural world; nonbirders can enjoy the adventure and developing love interest that compel the introspective, thought-provoking narrative.
Rogers invites readers to fall for birds, and a human love interest, in this book of natural history interlaced with self-reflection and meditations on relationships. You'll surely discover something new about birds - and yourself.
Learning the Birds is a great way to re-live being a new birder, especially if you started the adventure as an adult. Rogers spins a good tale - her adventures are relatable. A great winter read.
~Pennsylvania Ornithological Society
Florida readers will particularly enjoy her jaunt through the Everglades, heart set on finding a flamingo.Learning the Birds is a story of self-discovery in a phase of life that is unde-rexplored, and, like many of the "unremarkable" birds it documents, very much worth paying attention to.