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Publisher's Summary

Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn't want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn't want to think about his failed relationship with 'the one' or his potential for ruining a new relationship with 'the next one'. And he almost certainly didn't want to think about turning 40. And so instead he went birding.

Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans. But this time he also found competition. His growing list of species reluctantly catapulted him into a Big Year - a race to find the most birds in one year. His peregrinations across 28 states and six provinces in search of exotic species took him to a hoarfrost-covered forest in Massachusetts to find a fieldfare; to Lake Havasu, Arizona, to see a rare Nutting's flycatcher; and to Vancouver for the red-flanked bluetail.

Neil's Big Year was as unplanned as it was accidental: It was the perfect distraction from life. Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: during his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it.

©2016 Neil Hayward (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Sam Devereaux flawlessly portrays transplanted Brit Neil Hayward, who gives up his lucrative biotechnology career to bird-watch and heal after a painful breakup. Devereaux's Hayward generously shares the thrill of bird-watching as he quietly hides in cold, wet bushes, awaiting the arrival of these most elusive creatures. With a count of 749 birds, Hayward breaks the American Birding Association's Big Year record. The most fun comes from Hayward's accent and wit, both delivered authentically by Devereaux. When Hayward travels with an array of American bird-watchers, Devereaux continues to present an impressive range of accents. Even non- bird-watchers will enjoy Hayward's musings on nature and life - both human and avian. Listeners will experience Hayward's joy as he regains his confidence and realizes that Gerri, his new girlfriend, is perfect for him." ( AudioFile magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 08-27-17

Know a Birder? This will help you Understand.

I'm certain that anyone who is a birder will love this book. Those of us who like birds (sure, who doesn't?) and are glad they're around but don't so much understand the compulsion to chase them down and log every spot and stripe might not be so sure.

The good news is that, for birder or non, this book is fascinating. Neil Hayward is a very good writer. He makes you see, hear, and really want those birds right along with him! He's wonderful at describing all the out-of-the-way places a big birder visits and the conditions he/she must endure and all the odd characters (feathered and not feathered) met along the way.

And it's not just about the birds! Hayward's year was also about self analysis and self discovery. He's a nearly-40 year old man who is looking for a new direction in his career and facing the reality of his hesitation in forming and keeping relationships.

With humor and passion, Neil Hayward sweeps us along on his year-long journey. Lessons about birds, sure, but also about humanity, life, and love are here.

All this, plus darn good narration by Sam Devereaux - this book about birds flies high!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Anita
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 07-29-16

Birding is the original "Pokemon-go!"

I've known a couple of birders - and they're really not that peculiar. I've seen the movie "A BIg Year." I've even been mildly intrigued by the thought of birding - thought never knowing how one actually began. Then, I listened to this book. Part birding book, part self-help/acknowledgement book - it caused me to buy the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds - Western Edition as well as downloading their iPhone app!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • sherri
  • Kirkland, WA, United States
  • 09-18-16

Best vicarious Big Year

A backyard birder, I know that the closest I'll ever come to a Big Year is through a book like this. Hayward writes with a typical British self-depreciation: he must have done very, very well in his work (one of the smartest guys in the room) to have financed the travels demanded by such competitive birding. There's some forgivable repetition of form with the way he tries to interweave his ongoing life and love story with each birding adventure, but his obvious enthusiasm for the birds themselves and not just the chance to tick off a list carries the book. His descriptions of fellow birders show that this sport attracts people of all backgrounds, education, and income levels; and they travel to some hilariously uncomfortable places. Ultimately, the message is to go outside, look around, and be very happy that there are birds.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A relaxing journey with a birder

A relaxing read that I listened to all the way through as I drove a great distance , scanning the sky for wings in flight. Yes, nature truly does heal. Narrarator read the story with preccision and ease as if he was actually there every step of the way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Absolute pleasure

If you could sum up Lost Among the Birds in three words, what would they be?

In this book we get to follow Neil Haywards birding Big Year. Being a birder, this the birding storyline is interesting and exciting, with good descriptions of birds and birding. The author avoids reducing the species to mere ticks on a list, but in a straight forward but engaging manner he manages to convey his love for birds.
Parallel to the birding story we get a vivid insight into the development of his personal crisis which centers around Gerri, his girlfriend.
What makes this audiobook so pleasurable is how beatifully these two stories are interwoven.
Sam Deveraux's performance is perfect.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Birding with a side of whining

There were aspects of this book that I enjoyed a lot; the descriptions of the birds and how they are found, the camaraderie with the other birders, the glimpse into the strange word of obsessive birding. I also thought the descriptions of how depression affects you were quite good.

What I did not enjoy was the endless whining on the author’s part. For a clever guy close to his forties, he came off as incredibly immature and entitled. He tries to assure you that he is aware of this, but I don’t think he quite understands the depth of it. He also seem to harbour a lot more respect and love for his birding heroes, than the woman he lives with.

The relationship stuff feels tacked on and I cannot fathom why Gerri stays with him. I wanted to punch something when –after having ditched her for close to a year— Gerri goes home to her family for Christmas and he whines about being lonely and feeling abandoned. Is this guy for real?

Enjoyable book if you are a birder or curious about birding culture.

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Very well done

As a nearly life long birder and person who made that obsession into a career as a biologist, I was a little nervous about how interesting this book would be. I can say it grabbed me from the beginning and in the end I couldn’t stop listening. As a scientist, he has so much interesting details and if you are paying attention you will learn a lot. Beyond the birding stories, his description of his relationship and battles with inner demons made the book for me. As someone who always dreamed of a big year, I can’t tell you how much I want to take off on that adventure right now. Get the book and enjoy! You will not be sorry!

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Entertaining and uplifting

Even as a birder, I was worried that a whole book about birding might get old. Instead, I found Neil to be funny, uplifting and honest with his exciting stories of life and birding. I rooted for him the whole time, and for his girlfriend a little more :)

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Lost among the birds (girlfriends)

Great book with excellent bird identifications. Words used to express feelings really did a good job doing such. Just a bit much on relationships requiring reader to get back on track at times. Still a good read or listen.

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Different and Charming

The author's relating of his bird-identification chase during the course of his Big Year has whimsy and interest (assuming one is interested in bird-watching, even just a little). He has an appealing turn of phrase, and the narrator's voice and delivery are very appropriate. The interweaving of how the chase helped him fight his inner demons adds another dimension, which felt authentic.

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  • Steph H
  • 03-19-17

Rather annoying

Didn't really enjoy this book, but it was useful as a rather monotonous voice to listen to to drop off to sleep to.

I actively listened to the last chapter and the epilogue and was annoyed yet again by the self indulgence.

The bit in the last chapter about the 'evolution' of birds is just ridiculous and really rather pompous.

The only redeeming factor is as mentioned earlier it's perfectly boring to fall asleep to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful