A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From, and How They Live
By Colin Tudge
Crown, Hardcover, 9780307342041, 480pp.
Publication Date: October 20, 2009
• How are birds so good at flying and navigating?
• Why are birds so like mammals– and yet so very different?
• Did birds descend from dinosaurs, and if so, does that mean birds are dinosaurs?
• How do they court each other and fend off rivals?
• What' s being communicated in birdsong?
• Can we ever know how birds think?
In this fascinating exploration of the avian class, Colin Tudge considers the creatures of the air. From their evolutionary roots to their flying, feeding, fighting, mating, nesting, and communicating, Tudge provocatively ponders what birds actually do–as well as why they do it and how. With the same curiosity, passion, and insight he brought to redwoods, pines, and palm trees in his widely acclaimed book The Tree, Tudge here studies sparrows, parrots, and even the Monkey-eating Eagle to better understand their world–and our own.
There is far more to a bird's existence than gliding gracefully on air currents or chirping sweetly from fence posts–the stakes are life and death. By observing and explaining the complex strategy that comes into play with everything from migration to social interaction to the timing of giving birth to young, Tudge reveals how birds are uniquely equipped biologically to succeed and survive. And he offers an impassioned plea for humans to learn to coexist with birds without continuing to endanger their survival.
Complete with an "annotated cast list" of all the known birds in the world– plus gorgeous illustrations–The Bird is a comprehensive and delightfully accessible guide for everyone from dedicated birders to casual birdwatchers that celebrates and illuminates the remarkable lives of birds.
Praise from abroad for The Bird
Chosen as a best book of the year by The Independent
“Colin Tudge marries the poetry and the science of the dinosaur’s best-loved descendants. . . . A master of clear science writing, Tudge throws a state-of-the-art spotlight on every aspect of the bird’s life from migration to cooperation.”
“[A] book simply fizzing with ideas. Provoking yet always persuasively argued. . . . Besides having an enviable grasp of scientific fact, Tudge writes with narrative fluency.”
“Tudge’s writing is always clear and frequently embellished with wry humor. Occasionally, it is inspired.”
“In the book’s final section . . . the gloves are off, and he produces a masterful critique of politicians and economists, making an excellent (but probably doomed) case against the geopolitical status quo and its tragic effect on the world’s birds. This is a powerful, thoughtful piece of writing, which transforms an entertaining romp through avian biology into a compelling tract for our times.”
Praise for The Tree
“Enchanting . . . Tudge sees grandeur in how trees exist in the world . . . and demonstrates it with fascinating stories.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Tudge writes in the great tradition of naturalists such as Humboldt and John Muir. . . . Eloquent and deeply persuasive.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A love letter to trees, written with passion and scientific rigour . . . a pleasure to read. Tudge writes with warmth and wit.”