Physical Description:xviii, 331 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Publisher:New York :Spiegel & Grau,
Contents / Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 307-311) and index.
Part I. What birds tell us about the natural world. Birds : the dinosaurs that made it -- Hummingbirds : the magic of flight -- Canaries and black-backed woodpeckers : birds as flying sentinels -- A murmuring of birds : the extraordinary design of the flock -- Part II. The gifts of birds. The power of a feather -- From egg to table, part one : the chicken -- From egg to table, part two : wild birds -- The miracle of guano -- Nature's cleanup crew -- Part III. Discovering ourselves through birds. Bird brain, human brain -- The surprisingly astute minds of ravens and crows -- The secret language of birds -- The bee-eaters : a modern family -- Extreme physiologies : birds, the ultimate athletes -- Part IV. Birds and the hope for a better future. Nature's hired men : putting birds to work -- The city bird : from sidewalk to sky -- The transformational power of birds -- Birds as social workers -- Expanding our senses -- Epilogue : the future of birds.
Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to any other wild creatures. They are found virtually everywhere and we love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically; draw us out into nature to seek their beauty; and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, providing clothing and food, and helping us better understand the human brain and body. And they even have much to teach us about being human in the natural world. This book illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind--both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers' flight design; the chickadee's song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a "window into the evolution of our own language and our society"; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C., proved to be an effective method for rehabilitating the troubled young people placed in charge of their care.