The Verb "to Bird"
Sightings of An Avid BirderBook - 2003
"[A] delightfully literary and eclectic memoir about the manifold joys of birding...Cashwell is a storyteller. A very literate, observant, insightful storyteller."-- The Bloomsbury Review
"Reading this book was the next best thing to wandering in the woods with Peter Cashwell hoping to add a rufous-capped warbler to my life list. No, it was better--I could laugh out loud in delight as I turned the pages without fear of scaring the birds."--Katharine Weber, author of The Music Lesson
"An entertaining and witty meditation on birding."-- Library Journal
All around the world, birds are the subject of intense, even spiritual, fascination, but relatively few people see the word bird as a verb. Peter Cashwell is one who does, and with good reason: He birds (because he can't help it), and he teaches grammar (because he's paid to). An English teacher by profession and an avid birder by inner calling, Cashwell has written a whimsical and critical book about his many obsessions--birds, birders, language, literature, parenting, pop culture, and the human race.
Cashwell lovingly but irreverently explores the practice of birding, from choosing a field guide to luring vultures out of shrubbery, and gives his own eclectic travelogue of some of the nation's finest bird habitats. Part memoir, part natural history, part apology, The Verb 'To Bird' will enlighten and entertain anyone who's ever wandered around wet fields at the crack of dawn with dog-eared field guides crushed against the granola bars in their pockets. But you don't have to know the field marks of an indigo bunting to appreciate Cashwell's experiences with non-lending libraries, venomous insects, sports marketing, and animated Christmas specials.
"Birders as well as all others interested in birds will enjoy this witty and informative meditation. Declaring himself a victim of birding compulsive disorder, Cashwell, an English teacher in Virginia, does an excellent job of describing his fascination with observing and listening to birds."-- Publishers Weekly
"Peter Cashwell possesses one of the rarest of all qualities in a nature writer: an intelligent wit."--Robert Finch, co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing
"A fine literary ramble and a good laugh to boot--no mean feat in a genre that perhaps takes itself to seriously."--John Hanson Mitchell, Editor of Sanctuary , Journal of the Massachusetts Audubon Society
"Writing with humor and gentle environmental rants, Cashwell does for his beloved birds what Bill Bryson did for the Appalachian Trail in his best-selling A Walk in the Woods ."-- Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star
"[Cashwell] does not stint on the details that matter to birders, but it's his ability to translate the joy of the experience for the non-birder that extends the book's appeal beyond the Nature/Ornithology shelves."-- The Charlotte Observer
"Cashwell plays with the language as joyfully and skillfully as a musician coaxes melodies from his instrument."-- Rocky Mount Telegram
Birds first captured Peter Cashwell 's attention when his mother hung an avian mobile over his crib. He was born in Raleigh, N.C., grew up in Chapel Hill, and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he took every creative writing course permitted by the English department (and one that wasn't). Cashwell has worked at lots of different jobs--radio announcer, rock musician, comic-book critic, improv comedy accompanist. Now he teaches English and speech at Woodberry Forest School in the foothills of Virginia'sBlue Ridge Mountains.