An uplifting and hopeful memoir and social commentary about healing from alcoholism and drug addiction by becoming deeply immersed in the natural world through bird watching whilst bicycling across the USA.

Β© by GrrlScientist for Forbes |

(Credit: Adam Norwood / CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED)

This memoir is an interesting exploration of the extreme ends that one man went to overcome his twin demons of alcohol and drug addiction by redirecting his addictive Type-A personality into more healthy pursuits. In Birding Under the Influence: Cycling Across America in Search of Birds and Recovery (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2023/2024: Amazon US / Amazon UK), author Dorian Anderson, a neuroscientist, suddenly leaves his high-powered research career behind after enduring two devastating years of failure. He decides to reclaim his childhood passion by setting out on a year-long quest to see as many bird species as he possibly could, a project known in the birding community as a Big Year, by bicycling alone across the Lower 48.

The idea to pursue a bicycling Big Year was the brainchild after an enjoyable eight-mile bike trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts, to see two Northern Lapwings. Despite Dr Anderson’s lack of experience with long-distance bicycling, the idea persisted, and took root in his imagination.



𝐆𝐫𝐫π₯π’πœπ’πžπ§π­π’π¬π­, scientist & journalist
Gardening, Birding, and Outdoor Adventure

PhD evolutionary ecology/ornithology. Psittacophile. SciComm senior contributor at Forbes, former SciComm at Guardian. Also on Substack at 'Words About Birds'.