It might seem unlikely that a place designed for the departed could be teeming with life. Cemeteries have a long history of serving the dual purpose of honoring the deceased while also proving a space for the living to gather and grieve in the embrace of nature. Touted as some of the earliest public parks in the country— with mature trees, open grasslands, meadows of wildflowers—cemeteries are also attractive to birds and wildlife. In an age of distractions and disconnection, cemeteries create a sense of place where visitors can reconnect with nature while exploring the cultural history of a region. For bird watchers, cemeteries offer easy walking, open spaces to peer into habitats, and a peaceful place to feel the breeze and listen to the quiet conversations of nature.
Cemetery Birding builds upon the unique and approachable experiences introduced in Jennifer L. Bristol’s first book, Parking Lot Birding. While cemeteries offer accessible places to bird watch, Bristol highlights the need to tread carefully and ethically when exploring these sacred spaces. Her treatment of each of the nearly 100 locations provides information about what birds can be observed in various seasons and offers readers a snapshot of the cemetery and community’s history. Filled with rich photos, Bristol deciphers headstone symbolism in “Tombstone Tales” and offers fun facts about individual species of birds in “Tombstone Tails.” Locations range from the heart of Houston to the wide-open spaces of West Texas and every ecoregion in between.
The Texas Experience, Books made possible by Sarah '84 and Mark '77 Philpy
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Published by Texas A&M University Press