Synopses & Reviews
Now revered as one of North America's top birders, Kenn Kaufman hit the road at age sixteen and spent a year crisscrossing the country to see as many birds as he could, in a birding competition known as a "big year." In what has become a classic among birders, this memoir chronicles the subculture of birding in the 1970s and a teenager's search for his place in the world. In a new afterword, Kaufman looks at the evolution of bird-listing since his own big year.
At sixteen, Kenn Kaufman dropped out of the high school where he was student council president and hit the road, hitching back and forth across America, from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Mexico. Maybe not all that unusual a thing to do in the seventies, but what Kenn was searching for was a little different: not sex, drugs, God, or even self, but birds. A report of a rare bird would send him hitching nonstop from Pacific to Atlantic and back again. When he was broke he would pick fruit or do odd jobs to earn the fifty dollars or so that would last him for weeks. His goal was to set a record - most North American species seen in a year - but along the way he began to realize that at this breakneck pace he was only looking, not seeing. What had been a game became a quest for a deeper understanding of the natural world. Kingbird Highway is a unique coming-of-age story, combining a lyrical celebration of nature with wild, and sometimes dangerous, adventures, starring a colorful cast of characters.
About the Author
'Kenn Kaufman is a legend among birders. At sixteen he hitchhiked back and forth across North America, traveling eighty thousand miles in a year, simply to see as many birds as he could; he came back to tell the story in KINGBIRD HIGHWAY. A field editor for AUDUBON and a regular contributor to every major birding magazine, he is the youngest person ever to receive the Ludlow Griscom Award, the highest honor of the American Birding Association. His natural history pursuits have taken him to all seven continents, but he has made a special study of North American birds. His books include LIVES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS, the PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO ADVANCED BIRDING, and the FOCUS GUIDE TO BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.'