Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder

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What to expect

When Julia Zarankin saw her first red-winged blackbird at the age of thirty-five, she didn’t expect that it would change her life. Recently divorced and auditioning hobbies during a stressful career transition, she stumbled into birdwatching, initially out of curiosity for the strange breed of humans who wear multi-pocketed vests, carry spotting scopes, and discuss the finer points of optics with disturbing fervour. What she never could have predicted was that she would become one of them. Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder follows the peregrinations of a narrator who learns more from birds than she ever anticipated, finding new meaning in midlife. Coming from a Russian immigrant family of concert pianists who believed that the outdoors were for “other people,” she recounts the challenges and joys of unexpectedly discovering one’s wild side and finding one’s tribe in the unlikeliest of places. Not only does she come to identify proudly as a birder, but birding ultimately leads her to find love, uncover a new language, and lay down roots. Her thoughtful and witty observations about that journey illuminate the joyful experience of discovery and offer keen insight into what it takes to find one’s place in the world.

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