Zen Birding

Zen Birding

Connect In Nature

David M Whites inspiring stories see birding as a meditative practice and pathway to true connectedness.



Zen Birding is the art of being in the moment with birds as sentient beings. Follow birder and anthropologist David M White on a journey to a greater awareness of watching birds with these captivating birding stories that illustrate the Zen lives of birds and the spiritual lessons we can learn from them for our own lives. Discover an enhanced appreciation of place and being in the moment along with ways to communicate and engage with birds and their families all of which open us up to our oneness with nature. Zen Birding won the New Mexico Book Award in the self help/ spiritual/ inspirational category in 2011.


Archery, Motorcycle Maintenance and now birdwatching.  White & Guyette alternate birding anecdotes with commentary on ethics and attitudes in birdwatching, decrying ego-centred listing as against just being with the birds in their, not our, context...The principles are universal, and the book is full of insights into both bird behaviour and human foibles.

~ Dr Anthony Cheke, co-owner of the Inner Bookshop, Oxford, author of Lost Land of the Dodo, and former professional ecologist/ornithologist.

Much of Zen Birding Is a warning to people who love birds.  Don't let that love turn into nothing more than a list, especially as an attempt to solidify the self. 

~ Andrea Miller, Shambhala Sun

This gentle book on birding is redolent with the spirit of oneness with the Universe that embodies the spirit of Zen Buddhism. Written primarily by the keen birder David White while he was undergoing cancer treatment, to which he eventually succumbed, Zen Birding was completed by his close friend, Susan Guyette, in loving memory and recognition of his lifelong concern for the avian kind.
Thoughts on, and descriptions of experiences with, birding follow on relevant excerpts from White’s birding notebooks, which he took with him on travels throughout the United States....Zen Birding transcends and transmutes the scientifically trained eye and the piercing analytical view of an objective scientist to the world of art and sensitive appreciation of one’s environs.
Zen Birding was written in loving recognition of the needs of birds, and not just of those who watch them. The work emphasizes the different aspects of Zen belief in relation to birding, and should attract a wide audience, as it appeals both to nature lovers and to those with an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the deeply spiritual aspects of life.

~ Lois Henderson, Book Pleasures USA

Zen in this book is seen as an approach, a state of mind, rather than the arduous Buddhist practice of just sitting in a temple or retreat. Hence the book is really a meditation on birdwatching ethics and attitudes, an appeal to being with the bird in its own context rather than concentrating on competitive listing or overobjective science. A good reflective read on dark winter evenings.

~ M.G.Wilson, IBIS Book Reviews

Although this book will appeal directly to birdwatchers the reader interested in contemplative practise will also find some gems here. The book also reminds us of our connectedness with nature and the quiet moments.                                                                                                               


~ Scientific and Medical Network Review

This delightful paperback is a collection of vignettes, stories, anecdotes of Buddhist teachings, observations of birds from field notes and journal entries.  The tone is light-hearted, neither optimistic nor pessimistic.  It is humorous while recognizing the magnitude of the effect that human activity, including global warming and deforestation, has on the chances of individual bird species' survival.

~ John Anders Robinson, Middle Way

Through observational vignettes and musings on the nature of birds Zen Birding presents an approach to mindfulness and humility in the presence of nature that truly enables the reader to begin to see the tracks of birds across the sky. ~ Tom Jervis, President New Mexico Audubon Society

Zen Birding is a truly wonderful book. I wish it had existed decades ago because then its gentle insight and great intelligence would have led earlier to what has become for me the primacy of watching birds. ~ Alan Tennant, author of the New York Times Bestseller On The Wing

By teaching a delightful mix of patience humility and good cheer Zen Birding will make you a better birder. ~ Mark Obmascik, author national bestseller The Big Year and Halfway to Heaven 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature

Birding and all nature connections are beneficial to the soul and to our physical and mental well being. Zen Birding takes us to the next level showing us how to have the ever popular practice of birding connect us more to nature and to ourselves. With well over 100 million birders worldwide mostly in the English-speaking countries the importance of David’s and Susan’s book can not be underestimated. ~ Doug Trent, Focus Tours

David M White
David M White Zen Birding evolved from David White's background in anthropology and his passion for birding and leadership in the birding organization the...
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