The Birdman of Lauderdale
If you haven’t birded with Clay Christensen, “the Birdman of Lauderdale,” you owe it to yourself to get out there and do it. Sometime in May, if the Twin Cities isn’t still in the grip of below zero temperatures and if there is something less than two feet of snow on the ground, he will lead a series of Tuesday morning walks through Reservoir Woods in Roseville for the St. Paul chapter of the Audubon Society (SPAS). Skip these free outings only if you do not enjoy genial good humor in a bird guide.
Maybe you (gasp!) work on Tuesday mornings or are otherwise inconvenienced–perhaps you live several states away. In this case, you will want to buy a copy of his book. Reading these 64 essays culled from Christensen’s popular column in the community-supported Park Bugle, preferably over a cup of coffee and in view of your own backyard bird feeders, is the next best thing to a leisurely stroll along a birdy, wooded path with the author.
Many of the book’s finest essays describe encounters with birds in urban settings. Twin Cities parks and neighborhoods and Christiansen’s own backyard take center stage. Other pieces recount adventures and misadventures further afield: from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Duluth’s Hawk Ridge (where he leads his patient wife on a longer-than-advertised hike) to the waters off of California’s coast and the mountains of Peru. In every case, Christiansen tunes the narrative for every stripe of bird lover. Casual backyard birdwatchers will learn something new on every page and recommit to keeping their feeders full. Serious, committed birders will learn too, and they will recognize many of the same experiences, mistakes and revelations that fuel their own obsession.