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THE DELIGHTFUL HORROR OF FAMILY BIRDING: Sharing Nature with the Next Generation
essays by Eli J. Knapp

Eli J. Knapp takes readers from a leaky dugout canoe in Tanzania to a juniper titmouse’s perch at the Grand Canyon, exploring life’s deepest questions all along the way. In this collection of essays, Knapp intentionally flies away from the flock, reveling in insights gleaned from birds, his students, and the wide-eyed wonder his children experience.

The Delightful Horror of Family Birding navigates the world in hopes that appreciation of nature will burn intensely for generations to come, not peter out in a flicker. Whether traveling solo or with his students or children, Knapp levels his gaze on the birds that share our skies, showing that birds can be a portal to deeper relationships, ecological understanding, and newfound joy.

October 2018 | Nonfiction | 978-1-937226-91-6 | 265 pp | $16.95



"For the nature lover with a sense of humor." 


“You don’t have to be a birder to love this entertaining and beautifully-written book—although you may become one after you’ve finished it!”


"Knapp pays attention, not just to birds, the landscape, and the sights and sounds around him, but also to people’s responses to those things, including his own, and to human interactions with each other and to nature. His is an astute perspective, a perpetual student of life, humans, and nature, and his stories are consistently fun and thought-provoking."

"Knapp’s voice will be appreciated by novices and experienced birders...And, whether an essay is set near his home and college in New York state, Oregon or in Tanzania, Knapp gives the reader plenty of detail to appreciate precisely what the clever book title promises."

"A firsthand account for those interested in a blend of natural history, education, and conservation and how they can be shared family passions." 


"Pithy, funny, and wise essays about forays into nature...Knapp writes wittily of nature's nuances. Tales of field trips with students, birding with family, or the fun of leading bird walks ('Look! Butterbutts!') all contribute to the cheerful wonder Knapp evokes."

"Focuses on its subject with wit, erudition, and passion as vast as a great flock darkening the daytime sky."


“Eli J. Knapp lets nature lead him and thereby—in this important collection of essays—he leads us to deeper perceptions of the bounty of nature. Humorous, a little irreverent. You learn about birds without even knowing.”

PETER H. KAHN, author of Technological Nature and The Human Relationship with Nature


“I have a secret crush on Eli Knapp. He is a masterful storyteller—self-deprecating, witty, and always

eager to learn life lessons from his experiences. His stories are fun, funny, moving, clever, and always

full of birds! It is a brighter day when I receive a new story by Eli Knapp and get to spend a few minutes in his life.”

DAWN HEWITT, managing editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest


 “Eli Knapp’s essays capture the special, quirky, inquisitive nature of bird watchers. Whether he’s teaching his sometimes-receptive college students about birds or mixing birds and nature into a family outing, he weaves engaging tales of these experiences, leaving the reader wanting more of his well-told stories. He’s at the head of the class among the new generation of nature writers.”

BILL THOMPSON III, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest


“An engaging and witty self-portrait of one man’s amiable obsession—and an honest exploration of how he attempts to transmit this passion to his children and his students. A very fun read—and you’ll learn a good deal of bird biology along the way.”

THOMAS LOWE FLEISCHNER, Executive Director of the Natural History Institute
and editor of Nature, Love, Medicine: Essays on Wildness and Wellness 


“Knapp deftly captures the joys and trials of bringing birds to non-birders, from squirmy little kids to wide-eyed college students. We all should be so lucky in our teachers.”

SCOTT WEIDENSAUL, author of Living on the Wind

Also by the author:




ELI J. KNAPP, Ph.D., is professor of intercultural studies and biology at Houghton College and director of the Houghton in Tanzania program. Knapp is a regular contributor to Birdwatcher’s Digest, New York State Conservationist, and other publications. An avid birdwatcher, hiker, and kayaker, he lives in Fillmore, New York, with his wife and children.


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