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Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the…

Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder (2006)

by Kenn Kaufman

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237777,465 (4.34)20
Now revered as one of North America's top birders, Kenn Kaufman hit the road at age sixteen and spent a year crisscrossing the country to see as many birds as he could, in a birding competition known as a "big year." In what has become a classic among birders, this memoir chronicles the subculture of birding in the 1970s and a teenager's search for his place in the world. In a new afterword, Kaufman looks at the evolution of bird-listing since his own big year.… (more)
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    Birders: Tales of a Tribe by Mark Cocker (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Tales of extreme birding on both sides of the Atlantic.

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In 1973, Kenn Kaufman's parents allowed him to drop out of high school and pursue his passion for birding. He undertook a Big Year, traveling all over the United States to see as many birds as possible. He hitchhiked everywhere, spent around $1,000 on his expenses for the entire year, and amassed a list of over 600 different species. Today, he is one of America's foremost birding experts. I'm a birder myself, but obviously not to the extent of this man. I would have been more interested in his story had he talked more about the birds rather than his traveling adventures getting to and from each of his stops. It was interesting, but also kind of boring at times. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jun 11, 2019 |
“But in the early 1970s, we were not birdwatching. We were birding, and that made all the difference. We were out to seek, to discover, to chase, to learn, to find as many different kinds of birds as possible...”

Ken Kaufmann dropped out of high school and went on a quest, with a backpack, a pair of binoculars and virtually no money. Since this was the early 70s, his mode of transportation, the cheapest available, was hitchhiking.
Kaufmann's quest was to see as many different bird species, in North America, in one year, as he could, attempting to beat the old record. This is extreme birding at it's craziest, which makes for an entertaining journey.
This coming of age memoir, is his story. It also coincides with a time when birding in America really took off and it became a serious pursuit.
Obviously, this book is not for everyone, but if you like birds and nature and enjoy a good travel tale, you might want to give to give it a look. ( )
1 vote msf59 | Jun 18, 2018 |
This compelling story generates fast-paced reading with (confirmed) appeal to birders and non-birders alike. Kaufman's story would probably be just another semi-interesting tale of a birder's Big Year if it weren't for the uniqueness of his approach and the single-minded depth of his passion. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Kaufman's biography "Kingbird Highway" is a great companion read to Mark Obmaschik's "The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession." In January 1972 high school dropout and birding enthusiast, Kenn Kaufman, set out to chase the 626 record for identified bird species in a single year. Kaufman does find 666 birds that year, but his longer standing record is that he did his 'Big Year' on a budget less than $ 1,000. He hitchhiked back and forth across and up and down the continent, camping outside, living on thin rations, and staying with friends and acquaintances. His book highlights his most memorable locations and finds as well as the numerous birding colleagues encountered. It also identifies the evolution of the ABA's (American Birding Association) competition and reveals his change in perspective as the year progresses. He found the quest rewarding; however before the year ended, his interest changed from merely finding and checking off new bird species to learning and understanding more about the birds themselves - something that is often lost in simply building one's list. A great read! (lj) ( )
1 vote eduscapes | Feb 25, 2013 |
What a book! ( )
  JNSelko | Jun 16, 2008 |
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Dedicated to the memory of Theodore A. Parker III 1953-1993
Ted Parker was not destined to slow down, ever.
He was like a runaway train,
except that he was running on tracks that
he had planned out for himself, and he knew
exactly where he was going.
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I went out on the road, to chase my dream, at the age of nine. That was what I used to tell the girls I met while I was bumming rides around North America in the 1970s; and, of course, they didn't believe me any more than you do.
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