Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird Paperback – 17 Jan 2013
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An absolutely absorbing book, on almost every page there is an astonishing observation or revelation (Peter Parker Daily Telegraph)
An eye-opening guide to all matters ornithological ... His tour of the frontiers of our understanding of birds is stuffed with mind-boggling facts and insights. Thoroughly engaging, it also gives us a thrilling sense of the vast, unmapped territories that lie beyond, waiting to be discovered (Christopher Hart Sunday Times)
A joy to read, simultaneously fascinating and hilarious ... a book that is thoughtful, thoroughly researched and engagingly written throughout (Jamie Condliffe New Scientist)
An inspired bringing together of all the latest scientific research on avian sight, sound, touch and taste as well as smell, along with some senses which are beyond human capabilities altogether ... if you pick up Bird Sense, however wise you think you are, you'll learn something new (Michael McCarthy Independent)
This fascinating book has much to teach us, not just about what it means to be a bird, but about the rewards and responsibilities of our coexistence with these wonderful creatures (David Wheatley Guardian)
Superb ... like having the top of your own head lifted off and its contents deliciously stirred: no one after reading this book could think it was possible to know too much, no one could think science removes us from feeling ... his richly engaging book so deepens our understanding of what is familiar that we are returned to the birds we know around us and the wider world with a revivified sense of how life comes and goes (Tim Dee Observer)
Remarkable in its celebration of birds (New York Times)
A hugely engaging book about birds, their senses and behaviour that is informed by an attractive blend of personal experience, entertaining stories and cutting-edge science.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Birkhead approaches the bird from each of the five traditional senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) and adds magnetic sense and emotion for good measure. Magnetic sense is a bird's sense of direction, based on the earth's magnetic field. Birds can determine where they are and where their destination is from it. Humans don't have this sense, so it is especially hard for us to understand exactly how birds experience it.
On the other hand, humans experience emotion in abundance and it's difficult for us to imagine that birds don't suffer pain or feel joy as we do. Science has no definitive answer yet. But it underscores what is a problem for scientists - that as human beings, we are unavoidably biased when studying the biology of other animals. It's difficult, if not impossible to exclude our own experience of hearing, etc. when exploring the experiences of others.
Another of the themes of Bird Sense is that the amount we don't yet know about birds is overwhelmingly larger than what we do know. Birkhead refers to the growing and changing accumulation of knowledge as the "truth-for-now" nature of science.
In fact, Bird Sense is as much about the nature and the history of science as it is about birds specifically. We learn what naturalists thought about bird vision, etc. through history and how we've come to think what we do now.Read more ›
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 some of the chapters, where the author goes into considerable detail about particular experiments, successful or otherwise, from the past. I would have preferred to learn more about bird behaviour instead.
I felt that the final chapter on emotion was rather timid. It reads almost as if some anthropocentric big brother is standing over the author's shoulder, ready to render him unemployable if he strays too far. Still, the author's instincs are surely right, and it is a pity he does not feel more free to explore this aspect.
Recommended, but it could have been even better.
These anecdotes illustrate the author's obvious personal interest in the subject matter and makes the book much more readable than it otherwise might have been.
However, despite the general readable style I sometimes found myself wavering between wanting to know much more about a particular topic and a feeling that the author was labouring the point a bit and wishing he would move on already!
In summary though this is altogether a very readable book thatI would recommend to anyone interested in birds and their behaviour, but perhaps not to anyone wanting a lot of scientific detail. I did come away from he book feeling as though there were a lot of things that I hadn't previously considered about birds; both their physiology and their behaviour. I will also be looking through the extensive bibliography to find some other books that might provide further information about this interesting topic.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love birds. I keep rescue birds and volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary. I spend my days surrounded by birds. They're my hobby and my passion in life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rosey Lea
No idea why I didn't know about this book before as it's answering questions I've been asking myself for years. Read morePublished 2 months ago by p mahoney
I am fascinated by birds in general (and chickens in particular) and so I thought this book might be quite interesting. It wasn't...... Read morePublished 3 months ago by TH
Tim Birkhead, the author of this work, has a readily assimilated writing style that makes this work a joy to read. Read morePublished 6 months ago by H. A. Weedon
A wealth of interesting information on everything relating to the senses of birds - including their sense of navigation. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Alan Nelson
It is detailed, well explained and fascinating. I love wildlife and have a scientific leaning, hence this is one of my all time favourite books.Published 9 months ago by CasioB