Even on the days you cannot be in the field searching for new species to cross off your checklist, there are still ways to bird. This season, let your imagination soar by indulging in others' adventures — or misadventures, depending on who's telling the story. Birders, after all, are an offbeat bunch, which makes them always entertaining characters.
Here are four of our favorite books about birding.
"A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All" (2008)
By Luke Dempsey; 264 pages
English-born Luke Dempsey details his expeditions with two eccentric friends to see America's rarest and most beautiful birds. The story traces his obsession from the moment he saw a small bird in his garden and fell madly in love, to his misadventures with both nature and humanity in birding hot spots across the country. Sometimes snide but always hilarious, Dempsey's memoir is an endearing account of friendship, travel and the author's sense of urgency to see it all.
"The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession" (2005)
By Mark Obmascik; 288 pages
In this true story, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mark Obmascik chronicles the obsession of three men hellbent on getting the highest bird count in one year. The result is a grueling 275,000-mile odyssey, complete with vicious competition and, ultimately, a world record. The best-selling book was turned into a comedy film in 2011 starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin.
"Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder" (1997)
By Kenn Kaufman; 336 pages
This coming-of-age memoir tells the story of Kenn Kaufman, who dropped out of high school in the 1970s to hitchhike back and forth across America in search of birds. Traveling from Alaska to Florida and Maine to Mexico, picking up odd jobs along the way, his goal was to set a record for the most North American species seen in one year. But along the way, his breakneck game becomes a deeper understanding of the natural world.
"Rare Birds" (1997)
By Edward Riche; 272 pages
The only fiction novel on our list, "Rare Birds" follows the plight of The Auk, a failing restaurant located on a remote cliff in Newfoundland, Canada. In an attempt to save his restaurant, owner Dave Purcell fakes a rare bird sighting, attracting masses of birders from all over the world. Witty and ridiculous, the book was adapted to film in 2011, starring William Hurt and Molly Parker.