Dunne, Pete 1951–
Dunne, Pete 1951–
PERSONAL: Born September 16, 1951, in Morristown, NJ; married; wife's name Linda (a photographer). Education: Received B.A., 1973.
CAREER: Cape May Bird Observatory, Cape May, NJ, sanctuary director, 1976–99; vice president of natural history information, New Jersey Audubon Society; founder, World Series of Birding, 1984, and Operation Flight Path (protects habitats of migratory birds), 1987; tour guide, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. Keynote speaker at Watchable Wildlife Conference, Huntington Beach, CA, 1996, and at Texas Tropics Nature '99 Festival, McAllen, TX.
(With David Sibley and Clay Sutton) Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors, illustrated by David Sibley, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1988.
(As Peter Dunne; with Richard Kane and Paul Kerlinger; and editor) New Jersey at the Crossroads of Migration, illustrated by Diana Cann, Bill Frick, and Chris Vogel, New Jersey Audubon Society (Bernardsville, NJ), 1989.
More Tales of a Low-Rent Birder, foreword by Kenn Kaufman, illustrated by Keith Hansen, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1994.
Before the Echo: Essays on Nature, illustrated by Diana Marlinski, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1995.
The Wind Masters: The Lives of North American Birds of Prey (fiction), illustrated by David Sibley, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.
"Small-Headed Flycatcher," "Seen Yesterday," "He Didn't Leave His Name," and Other Stories, illustrated by Louise Zemaitis, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1998.
Golden Wings and Other Stories about Birders and Birding, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2003.
Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-To, Where-To, and When-To of Birding, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including American Birds, Audubon, and Bird Watcher's Digest.
SIDELIGHTS: Pete Dunne has made a career out of studying birds and writing about the creatures for fellow birders and bird-lovers. (Birding is a hobby whose participants pursue and identify different types of birds, then document their findings.) Dunne has served as the director of the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey, worked for the New Jersey Audubon Society, and even, in 1984, founded the World Series of Birding. During this annual event, birding devotees compete to see how many species of birds they can find and identify in a single day in New Jersey. He has also written books about both birding and bird watching, an activity in which participants take a more leisurely approach to watching the creatures than birders do.
Dunne collaborated with David Sibley and Clay Sutton on Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors. As the subtitle implies, the volume's text and illustrations inform readers what many species of hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey look like while flying overhead. With this information, birders can identify the birds even if they cannot view the animals at rest. Writing in Booklist, Martin A. Brady called Hawks in Flight an "excellent field guide." Similarly, Choice contributor K.B. Sterling deemed Hawks in Flight to be an "excellent text," adding that the work "does much to facilitate flight identification of this fascinating and important class of birds."
Dunne's wife Linda provided the photographs for The Feather Quest: A North American Birder's Year. This volume chronicles a year's worth of birding events, from a census of birds on New Year's Day in New Jersey to a Christmas Eve bird count in Kansas. Dunne discusses other bird habitats that he and Linda have visited, including the Florida Everglades and the Aleutian island of Attu, and describes the extreme measures birders will take to pursue their hobby. "Dunne's writing can be overripe and overindulgent," wrote Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Chris Goodrich in a review of The Feather Quest, "but when he has a good, involved story to tell, Dunne's light touch serves him well." A reviewer in Kirkus Reviews noted that the "engaging narrative" of The Feather Quest will entertain and inform both birders and amateur bird watchers, and described the text as "bird lore laden with humor, insight, and intelligence."
In The Wind Masters: The Lives of North American Birds of Prey, Dunne creates thirty-three fictional stories to introduce information about thirty-three species of North American hawks and vultures. According to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, Dunne "anthropomorphizes" the birds by giving them human thoughts, emotions, and characteristics, and achieves mixed results. Readers encounter a turkey vulture searching for a meal among highway roadkill, golden eagles affected by lead poisoning, and mating red-tailed hawks, among other avian characters. Paul B. Cors, writing in the Library Journal, observed that the book's "blend of fact and fiction doesn't always succeed," but praised Dunne's "appealing" writing style. In Choice, S.W. Harris deemed the pieces in The Wind Masters to be "well-written" and "skillfully prepared." The Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded that The Wind Masters is "strong on natural history," and advised readers to "read it for the birds."
Some of Dunne's pieces for periodicals were published in the volume "Small-Headed Flycatcher," "Seen Yesterday," "He Didn't Leave His Name," and Other Stories. This collection consists of anecdotes from the author's adventures in birding. In these vignettes, he compares birders to his dog and writes understandingly of his brother's lack of interest in birding. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "Small-Headed Flycatcher" "should not be hidden in the birding section of bookstores, for these stories show us that Dunne is as striking a storyteller as he is a naturalist." Dunne's next collection of personal essays, Golden Wings and Other Stories about Birders and Birding, was similarly praised by critics. "It reads like a joint project by an anthropologist, a poet and a stand-up comedian," with "amazingly evocative descriptions" and "splendidly wry pieces," Adrian Barnett remarked in the New Scientist.
Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding is a practical guide, covering such topics as which binoculars and field guides are best and how to attract birds to one's backyard with plants, food, and water. The book is "a superlative introduction to bird-watching," Henry T. Armistead commented in the Library Journal, particularly because it is "not overwhelming in its details." A Publishers Weekly critic also appreciated the balance that Dunne struck in his level of detail, noting, for example, that his "advice on binocular design, specifications and uses is easy to understand, despite the technical data." Pete Dunne on Bird Watching also contains the enjoyable writing that won Dunne praise for his essays; as Nancy Bent concluded in Booklist that the author "has an affable, knowledgeable, and conversational writing style that entertains as it educates."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Audubon, July-August, 1992, Frank Graham, Jr., review of The Feather Quest: A North American Birder's Year, pp. 116-118; November, 2000, Rene S. Ebersole, "The Low-Rent Birder," p. 113.
Birder's World, December, 2001, Jerome A. Jackson, "A New Era in Birding: The Dynamic Duo of Sibley Guides," p. 61.
Booklist, March 15, 1988, Martin A. Brady, review of Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors, p. 1209; December 15, 1991, review of The Feather Quest, p. 738; March 15, 2003, Nancy Bent, review of Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding, p. 1262.
Choice, October, 1988, K.B. Sterling, review of Hawks in Flight, p. 288; May, 1996, S.W. Harris, review of The Wind Masters: The Lives of North American Birds of Prey, p. 1503.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1991, review of The Feather Quest, p. 1448; September 1, 1995, review of The Wind Masters, p. 1245.
Library Journal, March 1, 1988, Paul Kors, review of Hawks in Flight, p. 72; January, 1992, Janice Dunham, review of The Feather Quest, p. 167; October 1, 1995, Paul B. Cors, review of The Wind Masters, p. 117; February 15, 2003, Henry T. Armistead, review of Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, p. 166.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 19, 1992, Chris Goodrich, review of The Feather Quest, p. 6.
New Scientist, March 8, 2003, Adrian Barnett, review of Golden Wings and Other Stories about Birders and Birding, p. 57.
Philadelphia Magazine, May, 2001, Kevin C. Shelly, "The Hawkman of Cape May," p. 45.
Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1991, review of The Feathered Quest, pp. 60-61; September 4, 1995, review of The Wind Masters, p. 59; August 24, 1998, review of "Small-Headed Flycatcher," "Seen Yesterday," "He Didn't Leave His Name," and Other Stories, p. 41; January 27, 2003, review of Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, p. 248.
Science News, July 26, 2003, review of Golden Wings, p. 63.
Sierra, September, 1988, review of Hawks in Flight, p. 108.
WildBird, September, 1995, review of Before the Echo, p. 56.