My writing speaks personally to the general reader about encounters I have on nature walks close to my home in the suburbs. Anyone can have these same kinds of encounters in the natural areas of his or her neighborhood. In my suburban wilderness 50 to 75 miles from New York City, I have witnessed the same wild creatures, the same struggles for survival, and the same natural beauty that we associate with true wilderness. Thoreau, the original suburban nature writer, observed: "It is remarkable how many creatures live wild and free though secret in the woods, and sustain themselves in the neighborhood of towns." I write most often about birds because, as n resentatives, they show the wild in all its glory. The study of birds is stimulating—challenging enough to be a lifelong interest, but not so challenging as to be beyond the average person's scope. The accessibility of birds, their beauty, and their power of flight have earned them a special place in our lives. Although my writing focuses on birds, I consider myself a nature writer rather than a mere birding writer. I'm not particularly interested in the typical birding subjects—chasing rarities, ticking off species, going on exotic ecotours—in telling buddy stories, or in name dropping. I approach the subject of birds holistically, often trying to relate the part to the big picture, which includes not only the larger natural world, past and present, but also human life.