Birdology/Sy Montgomery: Reflections

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I have been reading Birdology these past few days, a book written by my dear friend Sy Montgomery.  Sy and I met years ago (virtually), following a review I wrote of her magnificent Journey of the Pink Dolphins.  We met in person a few years later.  I've read every one of her fabulous books since—Search for the Golden Moon Bear, The Good Good Pig, among them—and counted myself lucky to know this permeable woman who floats among God's creatures—chameleon like, inspirited, sometimes barely breathing, always awed.  Sy swims with dolphins and dances with bears.  She sleeps on the belly of a pig.  She speaks of her border collie, Sally, as if Sally had written a few books of her own.  With Birdology, Sy dances with birds.  She might swim with them, too; I don't know.  I still have two chapters to go.

I am myself a great lover of birds, and so I am loving this book with particular fervor.  In it, we meet the famous Ladies, Sy's crew of intelligent chickens. We walk, with Sy, through a dusky Australian park, hoping for an encounter with the bone-headed cassowary (six feet tall, dagger-equipped, footprints akin to the Tyrannosaurus rex, but Sy's not afraid, so we're not either).  We urge two orphaned hummingbirds on toward life, and learn, in the process, more than a couple of things.  We learn, for example, that two baby hummingbird's together "weigh less than a bigger bird's single flight feather," and that "a person as active as a hummingbird would need 155,000 calories a day—and the human's body temperature would rise to 700 degrees Fahrenheit and ignite!"  We go on a bloody falconry adventure.  (Blood, with Sy, is a rather commonplace sight.  She may have a mass of great blond curls, and she may be fashionably svelte, but don't let that fool you:  this is one tough, bug-bitten, leech-proven traveler.)

I was about to read a chapter about parrots—squeeze it in between client calls—but I thought, Oh, no, why rush this?  So I'm going to take this book outside after my work is done and pick my feet up and hope a hummingbird will visit in the meantime.

(As for the photo, above:  I snapped this gorgeous creature a few years ago while on Hawk Mountain with my friend Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, her boys, and my own.)


Colleen said...

Oh - you know I LOVE SY!!!! I've got this one on my list for pleasure reading at some point (it will arrive by the holidays I'm sure, if not sooner). HMH just sent a copy of her latest Scientist in the Field title, "Kakapo Rescue" which is about highly endangered parrots in New Zealand. I'm very excited about that one and looking forward to a read/review.

She does not quite seem of this world, though, does she? Such a wonderful person - my interview with her was beyond delightful. I still don't know how she finds the courage to do some of the things she writes about....the river dolphins book was amazing but those bugs in the jungle!! I'm such a wimp in comparison..... :)

Lilian Nattel said...

Magnificent picture and sounds like a magnificent book.

Amy said...

Thanks for the introduction! I love animal books and will have to fit these in!

Julia said...

I love the pic. Birdology's been a personal favorite of mine for quite a while too.

Melissa Sarno said...

I'm trying to branch out and change my reading habits and it sounds like this author might be a nice way to do that. However, I may stick to the pigs and bears. Alfred Hitchcock has ruined me forever when it comes to birds.

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