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The Life of Birds [Paperback]

David Attenborough
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Sep 1998
There are more than 9000 species of birds, spanning the globe from Arctic to Antarctic, from deserts to jungles, and from mountain tops to sea shores. In this book David Attenborough presents the results of recent research into aspects of bird behaviour, such as their remarkable strategies for finding food, their complex social systems, and their ingenious and often bizarre ways of mating and breeding.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books, London (24 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563387920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563387923
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 17.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly six decades.

His first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at a London publishing house. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe, to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However, in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing, and has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998), The Blue Planet (2001), Life of Mammals (2002), Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008).

Sir David was knighted in 1985, is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and stands at the forefront of issues concerning the planet's declining species and conservation

Product Description

Amazon Review

Frigatebirds balloon their bright red necks. Blue-footed boobies strut about in brilliant cobalt shoes. Great egrets sprout snow-white plumes. Whether it's a tiny hummingbird or a giant moa, no bird can escape the evolutionary pressure to impress, outwit and outdo in the struggle to survive. And when it comes to the ever-popular books about birds, a similar pressure seems to be operating. In this splendid accompaniment to the BBC TV series, natural selection has clearly carried the day.

Lyrical descriptions and colourful photos do our feathered friends ample justice--along with sightings of the hilarious and the downright bizarre. Take the drab potoo, for instance: positioning himself at the top of a snag--head raised, eyes closed--he all but disappears. Or the diversity of avian abodes: nests range from the barely discernible cliff scrape of the razorbill to the 6-ft-high penthouse of the hamerkop. Attenborough's quest for the most striking birds takes us from Pyrenees peaks to the ice of Antarctica, flushing bare-necked umbrella birds, torrent ducks and the brilliant orange, bunny-hopping cock of the rock. Bird lovers will flock to this exceptional book. --Martha Silano


"A highly readable and vibrantly photographed survey of bird behavior. . . . Ample color photos illustrate the quirks of evolution that Attenborough playfully describes and highlight the scope of his project. . . . This is not a long book. But it is an extraordinarily rich one."--Publishers Weekly

"Each chapter is an entertaining and chatty essay that rambles amiably through a series of observations from the ornithological literature. Nearly every page is graced with stunning photographs of wild birds in the most beautiful plumages or performing unusual postures or behaviors. The book is an easy read that covers an enormous amount of information on the biology of birds."--The Quarterly Review of Biology --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Feathered Friends... 3 Feb 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Sir David Attenborough, veteran of many major book/television series combinations, has knocked them for six again with 'The Life of Birds'. This book is the perfect companion for learning more while watching the series, and yet stands alone admirably for those who haven't seen the series.
Sir David examines all aspects of the diversity of the community of birds. He begins with a discussion of what is considered the prime difference between birds and other animals -- flight. He starts by examining the archaeological record, and then proceeds to examine reasons why flight might have come to be developed in the first place. One of the early fossils of flying animals is the Archaeopteryx, which Sir David states 'could not have been the first backboned animal to have taken to the air. Its feathers have such a complex structure that they must be the product of a long evolutionary process...'
Of course, flight is not a requirement of birds. 'Giant flightless birds, however, do still stalk the earth,' says Sir David, who then proceeds to examine flightless birds and the reasons why they abandoned flight. 'Flying is very expensive in terms of energy and birds do not travel by air if it is safe for them to do so by land.'
Sir David examines the life cycles of several species of bird, from egg to death, which includes the feeding habits, the mating habits, and the limits of endurance. Here you will learn the different nesting and parenting problems. 'Most birds of prey lay more eggs than they can raise, feed the eldest preferentially and allow it to harry its younger sibling so unrelentingly that it dies. The winner will then usually eat the loser, so the nutriment invested by the parents in the extra egg and the food they have given to the nestling it produced, is not wasted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reviewer 23 Aug 2006
This is a fantastic book that accompanies the television series. David Attenborough writes very well on basically every aspect on birds lives.
It shows many different species and their way of getting enough food, nesting and raising young, finding a mate and flying.

The chapter 'To fly or not to fly' paticularly got me interested. It is the first chapter and it is about how birds evolved from prehistoric dinosaurs, and some of the flightless birds that have evolved on the Galapagos islands. There are other chapters about flight and about how many different species of bird manage to do so.

It has excellent photos, and anyone intrested in birds should have a copy, as there are not many books about the subject as good as this!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have been birding for over 20 years. This book has a great deal to offer a variety of people intersted in birds from beginner to expert. The photography is stunning and there are some great scientific details.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars read & refer 27 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent, just what I wanted and expected, would recommend to anyone who wants to read rather than watch, prefer to pick up and put down. Excellent information.
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4.0 out of 5 stars birds 19 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should have been called Life of Bird Behaviour instead of Life of Birds as it deals with behaviour patterns rather than bird groups.
There is disagreement between the dustcover and the forward as to how many species of birds there are. Iwonder how many authors read dustcovers to correct inaccuracies.
The 10 chapters are very well written and illustrated as is expectedand cover a)to fly or not to fly b)the mastery of flight c)the insatiable appetite d)meat eaters e)fishing for a living f)signals and songs g)finding partners h)the demands of the egg i)the problems of parenthood andj)the limits of endurance.
This the only book you will need on bird behaviour.
The pages on sources of photographs (314-5) are very badly laid out
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, easy read 19 Jun 2008
By Sophie
So many factual texts can be hard to read. but this book contains an enormous range of information without being in such depth that the 'average' reader gets lost. It is stuffed with beautiful pictures. I would encourage anyone with even a passing interest in birds to read it. You'll be hooked and want to know more...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brilliant! just buy it!
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