Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: The Jewel Hunter

Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Chris Gooddie's The Jewel Hunter for review. This is a story of his journey to see every one of the world's most elusive groups of birds--the pittas--in a single year.

The first chapter is his description of how he decided to quit his day job and spend a year following his passion. He was 45 and his desire to see his favorite birds required rugged travel in the rain forests. Additionally, pitta's are under a lot of pressure due to habitat loss, so the longer he waited, the more likely some of the 32 species of pitta would be extinct.

The rest of the book is a description on his journey through several countries, looking for these secretive birds in the rain forests of Asia, Africa and Australia. One of my favorite sentences in the book (as it sums up the life of birdwatchers everywhere): "My six and a half days of searching had finally paid off with a glorious, three-second view of the whole bird."

The summary:
  • Eleven months
  • 200,000 km (approximately 120,000 miles) traveled
  • 30,000 pounds (approximately $47,800 today)
  • Lost 13 kilos in weight (about 28 lbs)
  • Saw 1,970 species of birds (about 1/5 of the world's total)
  • Found all 32 species of pittas
It includes his pictures (definitely not professional photos) of the landscapes, people and animals he saw on his journeys.  Overall, an interesting book about a man on a mission.

This book is $25.95 from Princeton University Press and from Amazon.

Good birding!

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