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Birding to Change the World
Birding to Change the World by ​Trish O'Kane
by ​Trish O'Kane

Price: $29.95


New York, NY: Ecco (February 27, 2023)


New in dust jacket.

In this uplifting memoir, a professor and activist shares what birds can teach us about life, social change, and protecting the environment.

Trish O’Kane is an accidental ornithologist. In her nearly two decades writing about justice as an investigative journalist, she'd never paid attention to nature. But then Hurricane Katrine destroyed her New Orleans home, sending her into an emotional tailspin.

Enter a scrappy cast of feathered characters—first a cardinal, urban parrots, and sparrows, then a catbird, owls, a bittern, and a woodcock—that cheered her up and showed her a new path. Inspired, O'Kane moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to pursue an environmental studies PhD. There she became a full-on bird obsessive—logging hours in a stunningly biodiverse urban park, filling field notebooks with bird doings and dramas, and teaching ornithology to college students and middle-school kids.

When Warner Park—her daily birdwatching haven—was threatened with development, O’Kane and her neighbors mustered a mighty murmuration of nature lovers, young and old, to save the birds' homes. Through their efforts, she learned that once you get outside and look around, you're likely to fall in love with a furred or feathered creature—and find a flock of your own.

In Birding to Change the World, O'Kane details the astonishing science of bird life, from migration and parenting to the territorial defense strategies that influenced her own activism. A warm and compelling weave of science and social engagement, this is the story of an improbably band of bird lovers who saved their park. And it is a blueprint for muscular citizenship, powered by joy.

Trish O'Kane is a writer and a senior lecturer in environmental justice at the University of Vermont, where avians are her teaching assistants. A former human rights journalist in Central America and the Deep South, she has written for the New York Times, Time, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Burlington, Vermont, with her writer-husband, their dog, and three chickens.

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