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The Mating Lives of Birds Hardcover – August 3, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262018314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262018319
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,838,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A gorgeous coffee table book that combines 140 spectacular photos of birds all around the world with text about the wide variety of calls, displays, and other ways that birds attract each other to mate." -- World Wide Work

"A well illustrated introduction on the subject." -- Ian Paulsen, GRRLSCIENTIST

About the Author

James Parry is an ornithologist, tour leader, and the author of The Desert, Global Safari, Rainforest Safari, and Living Landscapes: Heathland. He lives near Swaffham in Norfolk, U.K.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an exceptionally beautiful description of how birds court and mate. I first glanced through the book at a university library and knew immediately that we should have the book in our home library. The photography is beyond reproach, the writing is to the point and well-crafted, and the entire book is a joy to read and look at. Highly recommended.
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By Keith Betton on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Given the scope of this book, the title is perhaps a bit misleading - after all, mating usually takes a few seconds, and this lavishly-illustrated work covers everything from the establishment of a territory right thorough to the young becoming independent. In a very readable style, James Parry has identified all of the key stages and grouped them chronologically. Within each group he writes essays of around two or three pages to explain different aspects of the ways birds behave, and he answers all of the key questions. For example what is a territory, and what does it need to contain to be of any use? How are territories defended and maintained? What use is song in this process? How do birds use their plumage and other physical features to attract a mate? These are all questions that most of us will have asked ourselves at some point. The essays are neither heavy nor light, but find a middle ground where information is provided in an engaging style.

Other major sections look at display, personal relationships, nests, eggs and young. It is hard to think of an aspect of breeding that has not been covered - including the murkier side of breeding with unmated male Ospreys mating with paired females when the territorial male is away, and Swallows killing the young from a nest where the original male has disappeared, before taking up with the female and building another nest. There are plenty of useful examples of activity such as role reversal in breeding, monogamy, polygamy and polyandry and also speculative nest building.

The book is liberally illustrated with great photos to back up the situations being explained, and many of these are full page images and double-page spreads. This is an excellent book for someone who wants to understand the processes of breeding, and is looking for an approachable text that explains the facts without becoming too engrossed in detail.
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