Skip to content

The Glitter in the Green | Book Suggestion

March 13, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds
By Jon Dunn | Basic Books | $30 | 352 pgs | ISBN 978-1-5416-1819-0 | Released 4-20-21

The following comments are from Natural History Magazine, March 2021 (from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City). I haven’t read it yet, but it looks like a good book about this wonderful family of birds.

In a garden on Isla Robinson Crusoe — a shred of volcanic land thirty-three degrees south of the equator and several hundred miles west of the coast of Chile — wildlife writer Jon Dunn stood transfixed. The object of his attention: a tiny hummingbird that few readers of this effusive travel memoir will ever behold in the flesh, “my first Juan Fernández Firecrown [Sephanoides fernandensis], ablaze with fiery colour. He seemed to glow from within, like a hot ember, a rich, burning umber…He stared evenly back at me, his head slightly cocked…For a fleeting instant his forehead caught the sunlight and went supernova, an intense dazzle of searing orange.”

There are plenty of backstories to add grace notes, sometimes in a minor key, to Dunn’s hymns of praise. At a public market in Mexico City, Dunn finds a stall offering husks of dried hummingbirds as love charms. “They are good for love,” the vendor tells him, “but also for your health if you are ill. You can eat their hearts in a soup.” Attempting to visit Bolivia’s Madidi National Park, Dunn winds up in the midst of a post-election uprising, and after a scary encounter with armed men at a rural roadblock, leaves the country amidst tear gas and gunshots, “even though I had not set eyes on a single hummingbird.”

Author’s Bio from Bloomsbury Publishing

Author Jon Dunn is is a natural history writer, photographer and tour leader based in Shetland, who travels worldwide searching for memorable wildlife encounters. A childhood exploring the water meadows and abandoned orchards of the Somerset Levels, and the droves and ancient woods of Dorset’s Blackmore Vale spurred a lifelong passion for all things natural history based. His Shetland home features otters on his doorstep, and summer evenings watching porpoises from the kitchen window. Once stalked by a Mountain Lion in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental, he generally prefers experiencing wildlife on his own terms and not as part of the food chain.

Publisher’s description from Basic Books

An acclaimed natural history writer follows the trail of the remarkable hummingbird all over the world.
 Hummingbirds are a glittering, sparkling collective of over three hundred wildly variable species. For centuries, they have been revered by indigenous Americans, coveted by European collectors, and admired worldwide for their unsurpassed metallic plumage and immense character. Yet they exist on a knife-edge, fighting for survival in boreal woodlands, dripping cloud forests, and subpolar islands. They are, perhaps, the ultimate embodiment of evolution’s power to carve a niche for a delicate creature in even the harshest of places. 

Traveling the full length of the hummingbirds’ range, from the cusp of the Arctic Circle to near-Antarctic islands, acclaimed nature writer Jon Dunn encounters birders, scientists, and storytellers in his quest to find these beguiling creatures, immersing us in the world of one of Earth’s most charismatic bird families.

There is a short video of the author on this site.

Praise from Others

“Jon Dunn’s book is an adventure-filled, continent-spanning travelogue. It is also meticulously researched. By carefully peeling back layers of history to find shimmering hummingbirds hidden within, Dunn has created essential reading to understand human obsession—past and present—with these remarkable creatures.” — Jonathan C. Slaght, author of Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl
“Glittering gems of the Americas and nowhere else on Earth, hummingbirds lure Jon Dunn from Alaska to Chile in this whizzing travelogue of hummer natural history. In an adventure replete with pop culture and literary references, Dunn treks deserts and jungles, investigates a slaughter of hummingbirds for love potions, unmasks the real James Bond, and in Colombia sees an otherworldly hummer, ‘like some enameled god fallen to earth.’ The book is that exquisite.” — Dan Flores, author of the New York Times bestseller Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History
“More than just an observant birdwatcher, Jon Dunn is a talented traveler and writer, capturing just the right details of people and place to make his hummingbird odyssey come alive. The Glitter in the Green is a vivid exploration of a dazzling subject.” — Thor Hanson, author of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
“This is more than a bird book, but still, it is. It combines one person’s adventure with arguably the most spectacular group of birds in the world: hummingbirds! The immensely talented writer Jon Dunn follows these highly diverse jewels from Alaska, down the Americas to Tierra del Fuego, and weaves an environmental and cultural dialogue around these hummers and the human-dominated world they live in.” — Joel Cracraft, Curator in Charge, Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History
“Natural history writer Dunn takes readers on a wondrous globe-trotting pilgrimage to seek out hummingbirds as their populations are threatened… Dunn’s vivid prose, balanced with just the right amount of detail, will captivate birders and non-birders alike.” — Publishers Weekly

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: