Bloomsbury £20 (437pp) £18 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Wisdom Of Birds, By Tim Birkhead
Friday 18 March 2011
In the tradition of the greatest naturalist writers, Birkhead makes his area fascinating to those who have only a mild interest.
Written in a most approachable style – Birkhead notes that we can spot the chalazae (strands that secure the yolk in an egg) "in cooked scrambled egg where they appear as unappetising nodules" – this thematic history of ornithology begins with his hero, the 17th century academic John Ray who threw out Aristotle's classification system and asked how do birds conceive and why do they lay hard-shelled eggs?
Successively exploring instinct, migration, the breeding cycle, territory and much more, every page of this book tells you something new about human perception of birds. The enthralling text is matched by the illustrations.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling