Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: How do birds experience being alive? Bird behaviorist and scientific historian Tim Birkhead demystifies the world of experience of birds of all feathers from the inside out, showing how their unique physiology gives them sensory powers beyond our own—including the ability to see UV light, echolocate, and migrate by feeling magnetic forces. With the wit and wonder of David Attenborough, he relates how scientists have discovered what it means to be a bird, over centuries and as new technologies have opened a golden age of sensory knowledge. Undaunted by the breathtaking scope of avian diversity, Birkhead explores their varied realities—from “an emperor penguin diving in the inky blackness of the Antarctic seas” to “a flamingo, sensing invisible rain falling hundreds of kilometers away” to a robin, hearing an earthworm’s “tiny bristles rustling against the sides” of his burrow, and dozens more marvelous avians.
Though his subject will appeal most deeply to bird lovers (and those who’ve wondered what it is like to be an ornithologist), Bird Sense will pique the curiosity of anyone interested in how any creature's experience of the world is shaped by the body it inhabits. –Mari Malcolm
Touching The Sunday Times Books of the Year An absolutely absorbing book. On almost every page there is an astonishing observation or revelation. ***** Daily Telegraph Combining a wealth of bird facts with a winning modesty in the face of these creatures' essential mysteriousness, Bird Sense is a richly persuasive volume. This fascinating book has much to teach us, not just about what it means to be a bird, but about the rewards and responsibilities of our coexistence with these wonderful creatures Guardian, Books of the Year We'll never know what it's really like to be a bird but Tim Birkhead's readable book takes us as far as science can take us, through an examination of how birds see, hear, smell and taste their world Peter Marren, Independent Books of the Year An eye-opening guide to all matters ornithological ... His tour of the frontiers of our understanding of birds is stuffed with mind-boggling facts and insights. Thoroughly engaging, it also gives us a thrilling sense of the vast, unmapped territories that lie beyond, waiting to be discovered Sunday Times Chirpy and fascinating study about the mysteries of bird behaviour Sunday Times 'Must Reads' If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a bird then Tim Birkhead's wonderful book Bird Sense looks at the sensory apparatus of birds and how they interpret the world Choice Inspired ... bringing together of all the latest scientific research on avian sight, sound, touch and taste as well as smell, along with some senses which are beyond human capabilities altogether ... if you pick up Bird Sense, however wise you think you are, you'll learn something new Independent Combining a wealth of bird facts with a winning modesty in the face of these creatures' essential mysteriousness, Bird Sense is a richly persuasive volume ... This fascinating book has much to teach us, not just about what it means to be a bird, but about the rewards and responsibilities of our coexistence with these wonderful creatures Guardian The effect of his brisk but sparklingly lucid pages is to refocus the point of view on to us and force a rethink as to what it's like to be a human sharing the earth with such wonderfully different and yet recognisably similar animals Tim Dee, Observer A collective portrait of birds that is deeply stirring and inspires awe at our own species and its capacity for such intense curiosity Wall Street Journal Like astronomy, ornithology is a science to which amateurs have made authentic contributions. Today, however, the divide between amateurs and professionals in ornithology appears to be deepening, as the professionals revolutionize our understanding of the ornithological family tree and of bird behaviour by employing cellular biology and the chemistry of DNA. Tim Birkhead, professor of behavioral ecology at the University of Sheffield, in Britain, has a remarkable capacity to bridge the gap ... His skill lies in the way he poses his questions Robert O. Paxton, New York Review of Books No book has made me want to quote incredible facts about the feathered creatures that inhabit our planet quite like Tim Birkhead's masterpiece Bird Sense. Be prepared to be amazed Sunday Express
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