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44 Reviews
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another brilliant book by Tim Birkhead
After 'The Wisdom of Birds' I thought that it would be very difficult for anyone to write anything quite so good about birds for a long time. I am pleased to say that I was totally wrong - its been done again, and by the same author! For anyone who has watched birds for any length of time it is not long before they start asking questions such as 'how do they do that?' or...
Published on 1 Mar 2012 by Dave

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but timid
An easy to read, enjoyable, informative book.

I especially enjoyed the explanations of how birds hear and see differently from humans. For example it is mind stretching to contemplate how some birds can perceive some sounds which exists only for a short time span whereas humans can't.

For my taste there was a little too much 'history of science' in...
Published 24 months ago by M. D. Holley


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4.0 out of 5 stars If you are interested in birds then this book is a must read, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Bird Sense (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating insight to bird senses and the discovery process over the centuries how we arrived at todays conclusions but there are still gaps in our knowledge. Tim's book is an easy read and very informative. What I found particularly interesting is the way reasearch is conducted both good and bad. The way that facts are and can be easily misinterpreted and that 'solid recognised reseach in the past' was found to be grossly flawed.

The intimation that there are 'smell maps' on the land and especially the sea is as amazing as the magnetic forces that birds use to find their way.

My only criticism is that some sections have more words and detail that could have been reduced.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 22 Feb 2013
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Mr. A. Thomson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This book is very good value for money and I would recommend it to anyone to read even if they are not particularly interested in bird watching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating description of birds' senses, 11 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird (Hardcover)
This very readable book gives an analysis of birds' senses, as far as is known today, together with a history of the scientific discoveries, theories, and experiments which have resulted in our current knowledge. The topic is much more varied and interesting than you might expect, and full of surprises.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of bird senses even for he non birder., 9 Feb 2013
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M. Hillmann "miles" (leicester, england) - See all my reviews
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A book about bird sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, magnetic sense and emotions - surely not my cup of tea?
But this one is. Absolutely fascinating. Not only is Tim Birkhead clearly an expert scientist and bird authority but he tells the story of each of the senses from the discoveries of ages past to current state of the art research.

And his descriptions and stories of the characters who observed and studied each of the senses gives the book a real depth. For example the larger than life character Audobon - the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and a servant girl who was born in Haiti in 1785. He made his living from bird illustrations and became a success with his art in Liverpool. He carried out exotic experiments on turkey vultures sense of smell. These led to Richard Owen in 1837 dissecting turkey vultures and revealing their trigeminal nerve to be particularly large - smell not sight was their major source of direction.

Some of the discoveries - like the very high pitched radar like sounds emitted and received by bats - came from tangential experience. Sir Hiram Maxim, after the sinking of the Titanic in 1921, developed very low frequency echo sounding to locate icebergs. He was the first to suggest that bats may use sounds inaudible to the human ear to navigate in total darkness, contradicting the conventional belief that bats navigated by touch . It was not until the 1940's that the bats echolocation system was confirmed.

Each sense is investigated in detail with different species relying to a greater or lesser extent on different senses: with owls, hearing, with gannets sight, with kiwis smell and touch, with the incubation of eggs tactile sensitivity.

The ingenuity of the observations and experiments is combined with cutting edge science involving brain imaging, fitting birds with GPS and touch and temperature sensors. It is probably the magnetic sense - how do migrant birds not just navigate but establish their position - and extent of emotional sense where controversy continues to rage most strongly.

This book must be the reference for the current state of knowledge on bird senses. But Birkhead concludes that the understanding of the human sensory system is advancing in leaps and bounds and the golden age of sensory research in birds is still to come. No doubt Birkhead himself will be in the vanguard. And I hope he writes a sequel to reveal the next discoveries in bird sensibility.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bird Sense, 17 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Bird Sense (Kindle Edition)
'Bird Sense' bird sense is easy to understand , well written and a fascinating insight into bird life and understanding bird behaviour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing insight into birds., 6 Jan 2013
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As a keen birdwatcher I have often wondered about what goes on in a birds brain, and what it must be like to be constantly under threat of predation. This book has really helped me to understand the birds I love. How does the crow in my garden distinguish between the food I put out? Sometimes it looks the same, e.g fat & white bread. It must be the sense of smell that they use. What the book doesn't tell me is where a single bird flying, for miles over the countryside & over many of it's own kind, is going & why. But then I'm nosey or curious.

A wonderful book which I'm sure I will read time and again. I hope Tim Birkhead continues with his research & keeps us updated with more books
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5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous book for avian people, 5 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird (Hardcover)
If you have any interest in birds then this informative read with a quirky angle is the book for you
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5.0 out of 5 stars Now I know "What its like to be a Bird", 4 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book describing detailed scientific observation in a very readable style. It should appeal to a broad readership.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 19 Aug 2014
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Fascinating insight into birds, written in a way that those with little knowledge of birds can understand and find easy to understand
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great present for anyone with a passing interest in birds, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird (Hardcover)
I have no idea whether this book would tell the ornithologist or twitcher anything new but for those who have merely a passing avian enthusiasm it is fascinating and informative ....and may lead you to become a dinner party bore! However, while I was gripped by the first couple of chapters, I found that my interest tailed off. Probably it's a book for dipping into rather than a straight read through. Good present, though, for anyone who likes our feathered friends.
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Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird
Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead (Hardcover - 2 Feb 2012)
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