Welcome to “The Wine for Dummies Guide to Birding (for Dummies)”

Dear Reader,

It is our pleasure to send you this free copy of the “Wine for Dummies Guide to Birding (for Dummies)” pamphlet. Why? It has come to our attention that many readers of “Wine for Dummies,” the leading unpretentious guide to the world’s most beguiling beverage, have become really, really into drinking wine. And we get it. Wine is so good! It’s why we wrote the book. Plus, the pandemic? The stress? Makes sense.

We are so glad that you love the book! We’re extremely pleased that you’ve been using your adjectives, identifying your varietals, pairing them with proteins, et cetera. We also love the book. And we have some adjectives to describe you: delightful, enthusiastic, persistent!

But also: Sloppy? Wasted? Honestly, an embarrassment to yourself and others? Yes, “Wine for Dummies” is a great read. But some of you are acting like early Calvinists with a fresh translation of the New Testament. And it’s time to dial things down.

That is why we’re offering you “The Wine for Dummies Guide to Birding (for Dummies).” As you might have read in the New York Times or in Jonathan Franzen’s essays, birding is another wonderful at-home hobby for these challenging times. Birding is also a great way to diversify your interests beyond wine. We would sincerely like you to try it.

And good news: you don’t have to give up your wine-for-dummies skills. They totally translate. Once you set up your feeder, and maybe buy some binoculars, wait for some birds and then get to work.

First, describe what you see! Sure, that bird has a technical name, and probably a genus, but how much does that tell you? Instead, how does the bird make you feel? What impression is it making on you? Is it funky? Meaty? Flirty? Assertive? Aggressive? There is no wrong answer. (Though you may want to step away from the aggressive ones.)

Do you think that the titmouse has a fun, pokey head? Just say so! Do you prefer the bruised-peach color of the female cardinal to the blood-red of her male mate? O.K.! Write it down in the blank pages at the back of the pamphlet.

Don’t be intimidated. Birding is deceptively simple, and anything goes. Franzen looked at a great hornbill and was most excited about its “hefty white thighs.” That’s the great thing about birding—just as with wine, there are no rules! Well, there are some regulations regarding habitat protection, and of course the Endangered Species Act. (We have made those regulations available to you in an online appendix.) You really have to watch it with the waterfowl.

Some bird people get into birds’ songs and work hard to describe and imitate them. Experts listen for the yellow warbler’s “sweet sweet sweet, I’m so sweet” or the black-throated blue’s “I am lay-zeee.” But we here at “The Wine for Dummies Guide to Birding (for Dummies)” encourage a less technical approach. Do you think that indigo bunting just sounds so depressed? So beautiful and depressed? That is fine! Write it down.

Did you hear that a bird called a regent honeyeater is dying out because the males have never learned how to talk to the females? Relatable, right? No amount of wine is going to fix that, unfortunately. But those honeyeaters can offer some useful perspective on your dating life.

It’s sort of like Franzen once said: “The two things I love most are novels and birds, and they’re both in trouble, and I want to advocate for both of them.” One way to think of this pamphlet is our little nudge for you to learn to love that second thing. Wine being your first thing. Not novels.

And, if you like “The Wine for Dummies Guide to Birding (for Dummies),” don’t miss out on our other supplemental pamphlets to help people with their lingering “Quarantine for Dummies” excesses, such as “The Online Pornography for Dummies Guide to Beekeeping (for Dummies)” and “The Tinder for Dummies Guide to Mushroom-Hunting (for Dummies).”

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