Darwin's Birdwatching

Talk about a perfect combination of topics that are of interest to Science Blogs readers. I just came across this starred review in Publisher's Weekly:

January 30, 2006

Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Little, Brown, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 0-316-83664-8

When Charles Darwin set out on his voyage of discovery aboard the Beagle in 1831, he was a naive naturalist. Upon his return to England five years later, as nature writer Haupt (Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds ) capably demonstrates, he was a polished, philosophical student of nature. In fluid, lovely prose, Haupt documents this dramatic transformation, focusing on the notebooks Darwin kept during the journey. Through her selections, we see Darwin's minute observations and his understanding of the natural world, and we gain early hints of the ideas that would transform the world when he published On the Origin of Species in 1859. While Haupt presents nothing dramatically new, it is enjoyable to picture the young Darwin spending hours watching Andean condors soar and anthropomorphizing many South American birds (not just the famous finches of the Galapagos). Haupt uses Darwin's personal journey as a metaphor for our contemporary view of the natural world, expressing the hope that people today might become more attuned to their natural surroundings. Darwin, Haupt argues, reminds us "that we too are animals, connected to life, past and present.... That nothing in the natural world is beneath our notice." (Mar. 7)

Sounds like a great read, and you can preorder it now. It also sounds as though, in its emphasis on the values underlying Darwin's naturalist view of the world, this book is going to be very much along the lines of my never-delivered Darwin Day reminiscences....

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Sorry I missed this. Smart of them to be seeding blogs with early copies.

Another very good read is "Darwin and the Beagle" by Alan Moorehead. It was quite the adventure!

You can read the first chapter of Pilgrim On The Great Bird Continent online, courtesy of the publisher.