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Bald Coot and Screaming Loon: Adventures in the Curious, Mysterious and Remarkable World of Birds Hardcover – March 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
After an abortive encounter with birds during Spring break, a teenaged Edworthy gave up his dream of nature photography for writing; with a number books under his belt (The Curious Gardener's Almanac, The Optimist's/Pessimist's Handbook), he returns to his early passion for "the magical enigma" of birds with a guidebook aimed at general readers, rather than committed bird-watchers. Full of fascinating information and trivia presented in a well-illustrated, magazine-like layout, Edworthy's volume discusses topics like the probability that birds and reptiles share a common, 145-million-year-old ancestor, the crow-sized "Archaeopterix," and the myth that birds are largely monogamous (although swans, albatrosses and most birds of prey "do settle down for life"). Surprisingly, he overlooks some recent research-like a 2007 study contradicting his assertion that, in most instances, only male birds sing-but is largely reliable in his discussion of bird behavior, providing colorful anecdotes for characteristics like problem solving in crows: "in Japanese cities crows drop walnuts in front of cars ... and wait for an obliging wheel to break the shell open."
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Top customer reviews
I have read a Q&A book on birds before that didnt sustain my readership for too long. Compared with that, this book is an eye candy with accurate, lyric and funny illustrations. Its an ear candy too with the poems in it. My favourie is Dixon Lanier Merrit's poem in which he rhymes pelican with '(his bill can hold more than his)belican' and '(But i'm damned if I see how the) helican'.
If you are a beginner, you will learn a lot about how the birds 'flying' rules all of its other activities - molting, what organs it can or cannot have. For a bird with scavenging habits, you cannot have feathers on your neck. The most amazing fact to know for me was the duration of day that it takes to make an egg. Again its the need to fly for food. Bird mommy gets no maternity leave. That they discard their nitrogen in a way very differet from mammals which again goes back to how it cant bloat itself so that it can fly. Dusting. Anting and many other phenomenon.
If you have not done birdwatching before, theres a how to.
With so much going on about air controllers caught sleeping while on duty, a patrol crane with a stone held in its feet might have a way out for waking when you fall asleep.
When the author describes how the birds drink water, from what I have seen or remember, I think they posess a soaking ability. I will have to watch more keenly and look for them to hold their head back to gulp it down.
If you are not a beginner, still there are many new things that will you make you wonder about the bird world. That swifts cant walk very well like other birds, having chosen the fast life. The technique of Albatroses and others with their tubenoses that desalinate might help us too. If you knew all this about birds, there are still many quotes, poems and anecdotes to enjoy. The best i like is by Emily Dickinson - 'I hope you love birds,too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven'.
I have added a new item to my wish list. To watch a mass migration.