In our home we have 16 framed photos of birds, 21 drawings, paintings, or prints, 20 bird sculptures, eight carved decoys, and numerous unframed photographs.

We are not alone when it comes to bird-relate décor.

Actually, I would have guessed birds are more heavily represented here, everything considered. Even so, we would be hard pressed regardless to challenge any of the homes featured in the delightful book “The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield.”

This large-format, heavily illustrated book visits bird festivals, bird camps, bird history, birding trips, and famous birders. What makes the book special are the photos. The stories throughout are illustrated with beautiful photos of the indoor birding life of all the birders we meet on these pages.


It is the birding décor these people have surrounded themselves with that makes this book fly.


I try to avoid envy since it’s a low-profit item. There are pages in this book, however, that stir the beast within.

I most comfortably could move into the re-creation of John James Audubon’s studio in Mill Grove, Penn. I’d be happy to spend a summer at the Audubon Camp on Hog Island in Maine. If Donal O”Brien Jr. long-time board member of the National Audubon Society, would invite me to stay in his Connecticut home with he and his wife for a month, I’d accept.


All of these places express the beauty and joy of birds with paintings, photos, and carvings, books, wallpaper, and collectibles – homes decorated to express and expand the passion of their owners for birds of all kinds.


There are, of course, ideas on every page, yours to borrow if you wish. There is a short list of rules for collecting bird artwork. There is a list of tips for hunting down bird-related antiques. There even is a list to help you dress comfortably for your birding adventures.


The chapter featuring Bill Thompson III, editor of the magazine “Birding World,” includes a list of everything Bill takes with him into the field – optics, books, bags, cameras, computer, sound equipment, shoes, and shirt. It’s all there by brand name.


This is a book to be enjoyed over and over. There is so much to see that there will always be something new. It’s clear that birding is not exclusively an outdoor passion.


“The Birding Life,” text by Laurence Sheehan, photographs by William Stites, with Carol Sama Sheehan and Kathryn George Precourt; Clarkson Potter Publishers, 240 pages, index, hard cover, $50.




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