“Taking Flight” Connects History of Birds and People

From ancient American Indian shamans to Renaissance explorers to modern conservationists, Taking Flight: A History of Birds and People in the Heart of America illuminates the history of human interaction with birds, through a Midwestern lens. This cultural history explores how and why people have worshiped, feared, studied, hunted, eaten and protected the birds that have surrounded them for more than 12,000 years.

Author and birder Michael Edmonds combed archaeological reports, missionaries’ journals, travelers’ letters, early scientific treatises, the memoirs of American Indian elders, and the folklore of hunters and enslaved people in the Midwest to reveal how our ancestors thought about and acted toward the same birds we see today.

Whether you’re a casual bird-watcher, a hard-core life-lister, or simply someone who loves the outdoors, Taking Flight will show you new ways of thinking about birds, people and the extraordinary history that connects us. For as author B.J. Hollars said of Taking Flight, “After reading this, you’ll never look at birds the same way; you’ll never look at humans the same way, either.”

Edmonds has been a recreational birder for three decades. He is Wisconsin Historical Society’s Director of Programs and Outreach and also author of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press’ new centennial history, The Wisconsin Capitol. He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin since 1986.

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