Matt Kracht loves birds enough to be perfectly blunt about what jerks they can be, to massively entertaining effect. In this follow-up to his initial The Field Guide To Dumb Birds Of North America, he expands his reporting on birds to cover avians of the entire world, gaining a significantly wider range for his mockery.
In service to that aim, he begins by breaking down the global zoogeographic regions throughout which birds are found, snarking a little on the history behind it all before suggesting his own alternatives to make life easier for laypeople. He also suggests a simplified physiology to help identify birds, before highlighting various interesting species worldwide in this field guide, choosing to classify them by such illuminating descriptions as “Typical Birds”, “Murder Birds” and “Fuckers” (the aptness becomes more apparent as you read.) Each description is accompanied by a mixed media color illustration drawn less by a professional than an enthusiast, as Mr Kracht obviously is. These illustrations, tbc, make up for any lack of technical precision with loads of expressiveness and charm.
Once past the field guide bit, Mr Kracht includes several interesting sections on birds in art and, essentially, how to build your own birding practice. Snarky and irreverent as this volume is, it’s also a soothing counterpoint to all the Very Serious bird guides currently on the market. I’ve always wanted to get into bird-watching, but every book out there makes me feel hopelessly inadequate. This guide, otoh, makes me feel like birding is something I could do (if I ever find the free time again.)
This book isn’t for the Very Serious, or for people who don’t like a bunch of swears in their reading, but for someone who needs a little encouragement to try birding (or, honestly, for anyone who dislikes birds but could maybe be persuaded to find them interesting,) this is a terrific introduction to the field/hobby.
The Field Guide To Dumb Birds Of the Whole Stupid World by Matt Kracht was published today December 21 2021 by Chronicle Books and is available from all good booksellers, including