Peter Pyle, Melissa Groo and other esteemed birders and publications review my book!

I was honoured that so many esteemed birders, authors, photographers and ornithologists have reviewed my book so far, from Peter Pyle to Melissa Groo and all the other amazing birders in between! I am truly touched! The words they all have written are so moving and it means so much to me that birders of their calibre liked it so much.

“Like Melissa Hafting, I enjoy helping others via email. And throughout our more than seven years of such correspondence, Mel’s questions indicated a sharp and enthusiastic birder whose passion and curiosity transcended simple species identification to delve into molt status, age/sex, subspecies, and various wondrous behaviors. But email does not always fully reveal a person: what they stand for, what adversities they have faced. In Dare to Bird, through exquisite and spectacular photographs and words of pleasing cadence, you really get to know Melissa: her sense of wonder, eye for beauty, and passion for sharing her love of birds with youth and those less privileged. For the stewardship of birds and the well-being of the increasingly diverse populace she encourages to enjoy them, I highly recommend this unique and important effort. Dare to Bird!” —Peter Pyle, ornithologist and marine biologist, The Institute for Bird Populations,

Dare to Bird takes us on a journey through the wondrous world of birds, a journey that brings healing and hope in the face of devastating personal tragedy. Melissa Hafting shows us that connecting to birds can lift us out of despair, unite us with others, and spark moments of joy and serenity that, quite simply, give us reason to live. Her gorgeous photographs capture the essence of both common and rare birds, and along with her text teach us why we should care about helping these creatures to not only survive but thrive. Hafting’s devotion to birds, birding, and conservation will inspire readers of all ages. I stand in awe.” Melissa Groo, award-winning photographer whose work has appeared on covers of AudubonSmithsonianLiving Bird and Outdoor Photographer magazines and in publications ranging from National Geographic to National Wildlife to Natural History. She is also a widely consulted expert on ethics in wildlife photography.

Dare to Bird showcases Melissa Hafting’s genuine passion for birds, conveyed not only through her heartfelt words and personal stories but also through her incredibly beautiful photographs. She reminds us of the profound ability of birds to connect us to the wonders of nature, to our communities, to other people of all backgrounds, to our friends and loved ones, both those currently present and those we have sadly lost, and ultimately to ourselves.” —Colleen Gara, multi-award-winning nature photographer whose images and writing have appeared in Nature TTLWildlands AdvocateAudubonCanadian Geographic and Photo Life magazines as well as in The Globe and MailNational Post and Calgary Herald

“With Dare To Bird, Melissa Hafting bares her soul and brings us along on her personal journey through the extreme grief of losing her parents. But she also shows us the way back to happiness, through her lifelong attachment to birds.” —Paul Riss, birder, founding partner of ROUND

“Featuring stunning photos of birds from all across North America, Melissa Hafting weaves her rich life and birding experiences in Dare to Bird, illustrating just how much birds can teach us about healing, resilience and courage.” —Alice Sun, journalist, author of Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide

“Melissa’s story is one of triumph over arrange of adversities. She eloquently demonstrates, through her words and her phenomenal photography in this beautifully designed book, the healing power of birds and birding. Melissa truly is a champion for encouraging more diversity in birding.” —David Lindo, vice-president of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, honorary president of the Colombia Bird Fair and voted seventh most influential person in wildlife by BBC Wildlife magazine

“The first time I read through this book I frequently caught myself exclaiming Yes! Melissa Hafting’s love and enthusiasm for birds (and those that seek them) is undeniable and infectious. As someone who has lived outside North America for a decade now, I found her stories and photographs cathartic. Birds are beautiful, birds are surprising, birds are a window into an ecosystem’s health, But for those that spend countless hours in their presence, each one is also a memory, a symbol of time well spent in nature with friends and family. I truly believe we are all birders at heart. Birds are for everyone, and we should all follow Melissa’s example. Find a young person and take them outside. It’s amazing what can happen.” —Russell Cannings, co-author of Best Places to Bird in British Columbia and Birdfinding in British Columbia

Dare to Bird is a personal journey of how Melissa Hafting’s passion for birds sustained her spirits through periods of grief and anxiety. Lavishly illustrated with the author’s superlative photography, this beautiful book is a celebration of her lifelong love for birds.” —Rob Butler, author and ornithologist

“When we look closely, birds can offer us the tools to navigate life’s most joyous and most difficult moments. With her deep affinity for birds, Melissa Hafting turns to nature to find community, intrigue, peace, and the strength to carry on. Her stunning photography, paired with her impactful collection of essays, makes Dare to Bird a book to rejoice in and return to.” —Danielle Belleny, author of This is a Book for People Who Love Birds and The Junior Birder’s Handbook

Dare to Bird is a loving tribute to wild birds and the resilience and healing they can provide us if we are open to allowing them to be companions along our life’s journey. Melissa Hafting relays the message that you are not alone when you are with birds, not only through her heartfelt words but also through her breathtaking photography in the book. With each turn of the page, Dare to Bird will transport readers into the world of birds and birding in a way that feels supportive and inviting for all people while promoting the many benefits wild birds offer.” —Holly Merker, co-author of Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body and Soul and Die Kraft der Vogelbeobachtung

“Melissa Hafting has crafted a book that is a pure and exquisite joy to read. Its exceptionally beautiful photos and poignant words evoke the wondrous feeling of being awakened by birdsong, which for me is the lilting voice of the white-crowned sparrow calling the dawn. I believe this book will introduce many readers to the wonder of birds and their significance as sentinels for our natural world, and stimulate a determination to protect this world.” —Cheryl Alexander, author of Takaya: Lone WolfGood Morning, Takaya, and Takaya’s Journey as well as a documentary film about Takaya

“An important, inspiring and deeply moving read that reminds us of the multi-faceted role nature plays in our lives. Melissa Hafting bravely showcases her humanity in her interactions with her family, her community and the birds themselves. Presented with her spectacular photography, this book takes you on a journey that simply makes you want to get outside and go birding.” —Liron Gertsman, award-winning nature photographer and conservation photojournalist whose work has been shown in venues such as the Natural History Museum in London, UK, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC

“An ally to everyone who has ever experienced discrimination while birding, Melissa Hafting’s Dare to Bird is a fascinating window into the ebb and flow of collective joy and grief. These murmurations of our own psyches are illustrated by Melissa’s lived experience and the countless parallels she draws between our existence and that of the birds. Her absolutely stunning photography is the perfect complement, giving all of us the opportunity to be captivated by the same sights she shared with her closest companions.” —Faraaz Abdool, wildlife photographer, speaker, birding guide and environmental advocate; author of Casual Birding in Trinidad & Tobago

You can read all the reviews and more that will be added at the publisher’s link and also at Amazon (under Editorial Reviews)

I hope that anyone who reads it will love it as well. I poured my heart and soul into my first book and I hope that translates to the reader. I also hope it will help highlight the joys and the beauty of birds and birding. 

The book comes out June 18, 2024  and will be available in all local bookstores, libraries, and online at  and Chapters/Indigo and in the US at Barnes and Nobles and at 

I want to thank the upcoming organizations and publications who will be doing formal reviews on my book in the future such as the American Birding Association (ABA) who is doing a review and future cover story on me and I will be on the ABA Podcast discussing the book. Plus Audubon, The Narwhal, CBC Books, Birds Canada, The Vancouver Sun and Wild Bird Trust’s magazine Wingspan who will also be featuring the book with Q&A's and their own reviews. I will post them individually at the blog when published.

Publishers Weekly wrote a short review of my book as well, that you can read HERE 

While I am updating wanted to also thank Birds Canada for featuring me in their Conservationist Spotlight page in their Spring 2024 BirdWatch magazine issue.

Thank you as always to everyone who has and continues to support me. I so wish my parents could of seen the book's upcoming release.

Melissa Hafting


  1. Mel you are loved and I and so many others are so proud of you. I can't wait to read your book it looks great. Don't worry your parents can see it from above that I am sure and they are proud too. I am so excited for you and many congratulations. Thanks for all you do for the community, young birders and old geezers like myself.

  2. Congratulations on these beautiful reviews. I love what Melissa Groo said in particular. I am eager to read your book and see your beautiful photographs. We love you Mel!

  3. Such beautiful reviews. Can’t wait to read the book, it will be absolutely amazing!


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