By Neil Gilbert


You can’t go wrong with Pete Dunne. He’s one of my favorite authors; I’ve been reading his books since I was ten. That’s why, upon receiving a gift certificate to Bueto Books, I ordered Small-headed Flycatcher. It was one of the few books by Dunne that I had not read.

Like several of Dunne’s other books, Small-headed Flycatcher is a collection of essays about birds, birding, and birders. With his usual creativity, Dunne infuses his stories with wit and humor. Dunne has a way of presenting serious topics from a humorous angle. For example, in “Separating Hoagies,” Dunne approaches the delicate topic of rare bird committees—by comparing rare birds to sandwiches.


Young birders appear frequently in Small-headed Flycatcher. I found it fascinating to read about Dunne as a young birder, as many of his experiences matched those of modern young birders. I could relate to several of his stories. For example, I’ve had encounters with condescending older birders just like in the story “Passing Sights and Sounds,” in which a penniless young birder has to tolerate a rich older birder who…

I shouldn’t spoil it for you.


Small-headed Flycatcher has my solid recommendation. Hardly surprising. I knew it would be good before I even cracked it open; after all, you can’t go wrong with Pete Dunne. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy—and try to read it faster than I did (two days.)