North on the Wing by Bruce M. Beehler [7/10]

Contemplative, steady books function as welcome relief from the drama and cacophony of most of our reading. “North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring” is a rhythmic, unhurried account of ornithologist Bruce Beehler’s 2015 four-month odyssey from America’s south up to the remote woods of Ontario. His mission was to shadow a 1951 birder’s trip, to view thirty-seven migrating warblers, but his deeper purposes were clearly to explore first-hand the amazements of bird migration and to document humankind’s inexorable encroachment of avian habitats. “We must remain hopeful,” he writes towards the end, “and continue to work to conserve and restore what we love.” Beehler writes fulsomely about the environment and the many birds he sights, and his passion for solo observation is infectious. This is a love story, an enfolding of nature around him, an immersion. Whilst the target audience for “North on the Wing” is birders, I commend it also to budding naturalists and explorers of the real world beyond our expanding megalopolises.

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