Paper pub. date
May 2009
ISBN 9780870714207 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 160 pages. B&W art. Index.


Forty Years of Birding the American West

Alan L. Contreras
Illustrations by [[Ramiel Papish]].

For 40 years, Alan Contreras has studied birds and natural history in the West. In Afield, he recounts his bird-watching experiences — primarily in Oregon, but also in Alaska, Arizona, California, and Texas. Sprinkled with comments made by ornithologists and early explorers of the West, his essays offer elements of natural history, personal memoir, and adventure travel.

In the largest sense, Afield is a love story, reaffirming the practice of unhurried observation of nature. It is a chronicle of growing up as a person interested in the natural world. From encounters with Oregon's first Eurasian Dotterel to the inspiring but unsuccessful search for Spruce Grouse, Afield describes the experiences of a birder and the life of an explorer.

Contreras records his observations largely from the perspective of a lifelong birder, but the people he encounters — and their perceptions about nature — also inhabit Afield. The reader inspired to visit the locations described in Contreras' stories will be pleased to find useful information about them. Afield will appeal to birders — and to anyone who loves the outdoors.

About the author

ALAN L. CONTRERAS, now retired from a career in higher education, is a writer, editor, and birder. His numerous books include Birds of Oregon: A General Reference and Afield: Forty Years of Birding the American West.

Read more about this author

“This is a beautiful and moving piece of writing. Alan Contreras has an extraordinarily keen eye for nature in all its subtle detail, and writes about what he has seen and heard and felt with a sure hand.”

—John Fitchen, author of Birding Portland and Multnomah County

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