The Life of the Skies by Jonathan RosenOne of the reasons I consider The Life of the Skies to be an Important Birding Book (caps to denote timeless majesty) is that Jonathan Rosen issues some thoughtful yet truly provocative statements. One really has to marvel at an author who asserts with such confidence that “Everyone is a birdwatcher” or that “Birdwatching is as human an activity as there can be.” The very first chapter of The Life of the Skies, Rosen’s prologue on biophilia, blows the reader away with confident declarations that cut to the inscrutable heart of what birdwatching is and why we do it. The following paragraph is particularly worthy of consideration:

Birds shuttle between what is urban in us and what is wild. They knit these things together in our soul. Birding surrounds us with our evolutionary history, but it also connects us to that word, “soul,” which–however much it seems an embarrassment in contemporary culture–nevertheless is as hard to kill off as our animal heritage. I can’t think of any activity that more fully captures what it means to be human in the modern world that watching birds. (p. 14)

Breathtaking, isn’t it? But what does it mean?

Here are the rules for our third Life of the Skies giveaway: talk about what you think Jonathan Rosen means in the paragraph above. What do his statements mean to you? Discuss it in the comments section of this post or write about it on your own blog and add a link in our comments. Winning this book is easy; we’ll select one commenter at random to receive a free copy of The Life of the Skies. The tougher task is tackling a concept as complex as the intersection of birding, humanity, and modern society. Here’s another Rosen quote to get your contemplative juices flowing:

Birdwatching is intimately connected to a journey we all make to find a place for ourselves in a post-Darwinian world.

What do you make of that?

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.