The Birds and the Beasts Were There: The Joys of Birdwatching and Wildlife Observation in California's Richest Habitat
Authors: Millar, Margaret
Publisher: Soho Press
Synopsis: Santa Barbara in the 1960s was home to two of the 20th century’s most important mystery writers, Margaret Millar and her husband, Ken (Ross Macdonald). It was also home to nearly 400 species of bird. This is the charming story of Ken and Maggie’s quest to see them all.
The addiction that is birdwatching comes to vivid life in Margaret Millar’s delightful memoir of her early days as a naturalist. Part autobiography and part birdwatcher’s journal, it is a moving elegy to a bygone place and time. Millar brings her meticulous plotting and no small amount of suspense to these charming stories of a belligerent brown towhee named Houdunit, a larcenous raven called Melanie, and a rat who carefully ferments his grapes before eating them, to name only a few.
Ornithology was a passion for both Ken and Maggie and they devoted their lives to it with the same keen sense of detail and, in the case of Margaret, storytelling vigor as they brought to their writing. In this book, the only memoir she wrote, Millar takes us on her journey from curious amateur to obsessive completionist. It is a phenomenon nearly any birding enthusiast will recognize.
Ken and Margaret Millar were founding members of the Santa Barbara Audubon Society.
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