I’ve posted a couple of times before [1 2] about the Black Swift, one of the most unique and mysterious birds in North America, but this news was too good not to report: Rich Levad’s book “The Coolest Bird” has been published online by the American Birding Association. Click the link for the 152-page PDF.
I had the privilege of knowing Rich before his untimely death in February 2008 from ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was such a force of nature that even though his career as an amateur ornithologist didn’t begin until after he retired from teaching, he still managed to move our knowledge of the Black Swift forward as much as any other individual in the past three decades. “The Coolest Bird” is part memoir, part historical narrative, part monograph. Rich meant it to be a book for the masses — the story not only of the bird but of all those who have pursued it, including their rivalries and prejudices, their flashes of insight, their daring climbs to nest locations, and above all their passion for the bird. It’s a fast and absorbing read — if you have any time to spare, I highly recommend it.