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What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book will enhance our own ability to learn what the nestlings learn."- Birding Business

"Don’t tell lifelong birder Jon Young that robins are boring. He can sit still in his yard, watching and listending for the moment when robins and other birds no longer perceive him as a threat. Then he can begin to hear what the birds say to each other, warning about nearby hawks, cats, or competitors. Young’s book will teach you how you, too, can understand birds and their fascinating behaviors." - BirdWatching

"A sophisticated guide for amateur bird watchers and a door-opener for newbies." - Kirkus

"Though primarily geared toward birders and naturalists rather than lay readers, this passionate instruction manual offers enjoyable anecdotes." - Publishers Weekly 

Book Description

HMH hardcover, 2012
Previous ISBN: 978-0-547-45125-1
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547451253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547451251
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book leads you from the question of what bird is making that sound, to why is that bird making that sound. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities of exploring the natural world. It contains hard-earned knowledge on the communication of different bird species and the wisdom of how to gain more knowledge in your particular space. This book is extremely well-written. It is mix of science, personal experience, and how-to. There is no book like this out there. I finished it in a day, but will probably re-read and reference it for years to come. Highly recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video Verified Purchase
Bird Language the Tactical Advantage

Jon Young has published another superb title "What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World." Throughout time animal alarms have been used by hunters and military personnel to cue them into the environment and/or to "alarm" them to the presence of a predator or enemy. During this time hunters and soldiers that employed this technique may have not known that they were using an elaborate communications system that today is now and art and science. And they may have not even known that they under stood some of this "foreign" language. What Jon Young has done is put this language in an easy to understand how-to format, essentially providing anybody the opportunity to learn this language if they so desire. I personally learned bird language a few years back to use operationally on combat operations. In doing so, I picked specific species of birds and animals to study and learn, that were common across my area of operation. I am by no means an expert at bird language but used it operationally successfully in locations specific to me in areas in Africa, Malaya and Borneo. I also can take the same principles and with time apply them to my new operational areas as needed. This is because even though birds have different songs/calls, bird language is essentially the same the world over and is understood intuitively by many species of animals, which ultimately leads to the concentric rings that are made by disturbances to the baseline of the area you are operating in. The disturbances could be predators in the area or enemy personnel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those already familiar with the study of bird language as a doorway to nature interpretation, the writing of Jon Young needs no review. For others, What The Robin Knows will undoubtedly thrust your study and enjoyment of nature into another realm - one of direct participation. Full of examples that motivate and which are enhanced by audio file connections, Jon's new book is appropriate for novice and experienced students alike. Because of the focus on "common" backyard birds and their relationship to the environment, the lessons are portable to a wide range of ecosystems. This book will become the textbook for our "bird language group" in upstate New York.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought the Kindle version of this book. I learned how to pay more attention to bird habits and sounds, and I look forward to using this awareness in the field. I will likely refer back to this book to review different points, as long as I can find them.

But I am only giving it three stars because I have never read a book that had so many issues with mechanics. Jon Young uses too many parenthetical asides (like this, but much longer), and I found that extremely distracting. I don't know whether to blame him or his editor. I understand the references to his audio clips, but 90 percent of his asides could have been re-worded to become normal sentences. Another 10 percent could have been eliminated all together. Some asides are so long they could be entire paragraphs. The net effect is that I, as a reader, never quite knew what was the most important part of the paragraph or chapter. Was it the main text, or the many asides, or the side story he just decided to break in and tell?

The asides, combined with very long paragraphs, just prevented the book from flowing for me. I'm an electrical engineer, so it's not like I'm an English major or something. But I have read many fiction and non-fiction books, and to me the sign of a well-edited book is that I don't notice the editing -- and I can focus on the content.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was first introduced to Bird Language by Jon Young 7 years ago. Learning to understand bird communication has changed my life in so many positive ways. This book manages to neatly and concisely compile an extraordinary amount of ancient knowledge and wisdom, and serve it in an easily digestible manner. All that, and it's fun to read! I highly recommend this book for anyone, not just birders!
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Format: Hardcover
Great book! It's hard to put it down. It's totally transformational in a very innocent way. First, this book will completely change the way you think about birds, then it will completely change the way you think about your relationship with birds. Even if you're not a "birder" you'll totally love it.
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Format: Hardcover
Learning to understand bird language is an eye-opening, ear-perking, attention-expanding, and heart-softening journey. I'm grateful to Jon Young for making this journey available!
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