ORNITHOPHILIA: THOUGHTS ON GEOGRAPHY IN BIRDING

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abstract.

The deeper motives of bird-watchers have rarely been subjected to geographical inquiry. Birders are sometimes dismissed as hobbyists bent on compensating for feelings of inadequacy and lack of control in their personal lives. In this article, utilizing textual references as well as experiences from my own participant-observer status as geographer-cum-birder and bird-tour leader, I construct a geographically oriented approach to understanding the fascinations of bird-watching. I detail ethnographically the annual Christmas Bird Count and a bird walk in the Honduran rain forest. Then, drawing from the nest-as-home metaphors of Gaston Bachelard and the “becoming-bird” relationships suggested by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, I position birding as extraordinarily intimate exploration of place, reinforced by anticipation, repetition, experience of beauty, and the culminating encounter of human self, bird or bird spectacle, and landscape.

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