Birdgirl (Mya-Rose Craig) – Short Review5 min read

Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig Book Cover

Three Sentence Summary

Escape into a worldwide tour of birdwatching! Share in Mya’s passion whilst growing up with her and seeing how the world and family dynamic changes through a young girls eyes. A great thought provoking read demonstrating the powerful rejuvenating effect of nature and why it should be protected.

My Thoughts

Nature writing especially when in the form of memoirs is a niche I love as it brings me out of suburbia into something more relaxing, wild and even primal. If I cant get out there myself reading about it is the next best thing. What Mya-Rose Craig managed to do with her first book is take us on a journey through her life so far demonstrating how birds and nature are inexplicably linked to her life from birth. In her words birding is:

‘a thread running through the pattern of my life, so tightly woven in that there’s no way of pulling it free and leaving the rest of my life intact.’

From reading this book it took me back to my young childhood where I would read through massive illustrated books on the animal kingdom learning all the animals. Mostly though I’d be reading the Dorling Kindersley, RSPB and Collins bird guides. I took a keen interest in the birds coming to our garden and whenever we were out at the local reserves I’d be able to identify anything and everything. Which seemed to equally amaze and confuse my family who wondered how I could identify a great tit just from the way it was flying. They probably thought I was making it up half the time. Some of my best memories were going to nature reserves with my family. I’ll always remember my mum asking what bird species it is for it to always be a wood pigeon, sharing my sandwich with my great uncle after he mistakenly brought a whole block of cheese on our walk and spending hours with my grandparents and parents in hides waiting for a bittern or a kingfisher to appear even though we were all freezing cold. Simpler times.
Maya’s experiences are far more grand with her now seeing over half of all bird species on earth (over 5,000) and having been to every continent on Earth – something I aspire to do one day. That’s impressive for anyone never mind someone of her age. Even so each bird no matter how exotic still gave her that feeling of ‘excitement mixed with yearning’. The same feeling I felt as a kid after seeing my first peregrine falcon. All this experience has put her in a unique position for this book to describe her infectious passion as she’s on the trail of a new target species but also how the world has changed through the eyes of a young child through to her late teens. This book goes through family drama, racism, online abuse and mental health.
Mental health is a large part of this book with birding both acting as an escape but also therapy. The story revolves a lot around her mother and their family dynamic through the eyes of Mya. Following her growing up as she becomes more aware of the severity of her mums bipolar and how it effects her family is extremely eye opening. It really makes you feel a personal connection and I have to applaud them for opening up and sharing these experiences.
Another eye opening area for me personally was racism and not quite fitting in with the birding crowd as it is a hobby enjoyed predominantly by older white men. Growing up in a rural area with very little diversity in culture this never really occurred to me but looking back I can see why they would have felt out of place. Now that I’ve moved to larger cities it has been nice to see more diversity in the people enjoying these wild places. There is still plenty of work to be done to make everyone feel connected to nature and feel like it is theirs to enjoy. As Mya points out the only way for the protection of these environments and so the birds that inhabit them is for people to feel a personal connection with the area. This is one way on a local level that change can begin and Mya’s activism in this area is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of in future.

Favourite Quote

‘I selected three [target birds] which sparked a strange feeling in my chest: excitement mixed with yearning.’

Overall, this book was very nostalgic for me and was a brilliant read. I’m sure it will introduce many others to the joys of birding and the truly rejuvenating benefits of getting out and connecting with nature. I thoroughly recommend giving it a read!


If you’ve read this book already I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know down below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top