The Wisdom Of Birds, By Tim Birkhead

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The Independent Culture

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.