The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief

Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
On a cool June evening in 2009, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist grabbed hundreds of bird skins - some collected 150 years earlier - and escaped into the darkness. Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? This is the gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice.
Publisher: New York : Viking, [2018]
ISBN: 9781101981610
Branch Call Number: History 364.162 Joh


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 10, 2019

Rather odd story but it sucked me in. I did enjoy the second half maybe a bit better than the first. I was behind the author in his quest to at least try to find the missing birds. Good job. He is a good writer and I totally see why he wanted to write this book. It's odd and certainly not run of the mill. Shame on everyone involved except the author.

OPL_ErinD May 05, 2019

For fans who love intrigue, but also anyone who enjoys an inside look at a researchers path to storytelling.

Feb 20, 2019

Dec 12, 2018

I tend to agree with 'juniperwind' review. I skipped ahead frequently & didn't lose anything. What is remarkable is getting into the BHM for this theft - it is a wonderous section of the museum, one day cannot possibly cover the visit.

Oct 22, 2018

A gripping and fast-paced tale of true crime that takes the reader from the dark side of fly fishing and the feather black market to the site of a heist of rare bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring in 2009.

Oct 12, 2018

Loved this book! It's very fascinating!

Aug 10, 2018

I am impressed with the author's background and the synchronicity of events that led him down the path of bird feather whisperer. Johnson, former coordinator of reconstructing Fallujah for USAID, happens upon the story of Edwin Rist who managed to rob the Tring Museum of rare and endangered bird feathers in order to satiate the obsession of tie fliers world-wide. We get background stories of feather fashion fetish of the late 1800's, the unfathomable search, discovery, and collection of rare birds by Alfred Russel Wallace, and later legislation to stop the sale of these skins. However, the piece de resistance is Rist's heist and it's consequence worldwide in the underground of tie fliers and Johnson's obsession to bring closure to the mystery surrounding it.

DPLjennyp Jul 26, 2018

An interesting and enjoyable read.

ArapahoeJillA Jul 18, 2018

The tale of a man who steals birds from a museum in order to sell them to salmon fly tyers. Yes, it's a true story and a fascinating one at that! I thoroughly enjoyed this one and will now go look for Kirk's first book to read while I eagerly await his next book.

ArapahoePamelaH Jul 17, 2018

Who knew dead birds stored in a museum for study would be worth stealing? Yes - and then sold to people who make money selling their personally tied flies for fishing. This is an exciting story of a little known world where beautiful feathers are valuable, stolen or not.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top