A new and expanded edition featuring 30% new material from renowned ornithologist and professor of wildlife ecology J. Drew Lanham Read More
“You are a rare bird, easy to see but invisible just the same.” That thought is close at hand in Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, as renowned naturalist and writer J. Drew Lanham explores his obsession with birds and all things wild in a mixture of poetry and prose. He questions vital assumptions taken for granted by so many birdwatchers: can birding be an escape if the birder is not in a safe place? Who is watching him as he watches birds?
With a refreshing balance of reverence and candor, Lanham paints a unique portrait of the natural world: listening to cicadas, tracking sandpipers, towhees, wrens, and cataloging fellow birdwatchers at a conference where he is one of two black birders. The resulting insights are as honest as they are illuminating.
"An astute, awakening, witty, and resonant work of dissent and a profound embrace of life." —Booklist, Starred Review
"Sparrow Envy is a book of uncommon grace. At the heart of this collection is a deeply satisfying focus on birds and yet, in these pages, it is humankind that gets examined with candor and cunning. Lanham's essential convergences of lyric and inquisition prove a satisfying reward." —Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author World of Wonder
"In Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, J. Drew Lanham shows himself to be an exuberantly lyrical thinker. In the poems, Lanham leans into the joy of sonic play as he engages and embodies issues of environmental and social justice. A keen-eyed observer of human nature and greater-than-human Nature, he sings the necessary songs of our time. Birding and poetry are practices of attentiveness, and the attention Lanham’s given these poems will greatly reward any reader’s attention. Lanham’s is a vision and voice I admire; I’m as grateful for this book, this field guide, as he is grateful for the wildness in the world." —Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods
"There's so much to admire here in the dense thicket of Drew Lanham's first poems and lyric prose pieces he calls 'field marks.' We don't need a literary field guide to recognize such a rare bird singing among us." —John Lane, author of Neighborhood Hawks
“...thoughtful, sincere, wise, and beautiful.” —Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk
"You might find yourself hoping for a world where every family has a J. Drew Lanham in it.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune