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Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Birdby Tim Birkhead
Synopses & Reviews
What is it like to be a swift, flying at over one hundred kilometres an hour? Or a kiwi, plodding flightlessly among the humid undergrowth in the pitch dark of a New Zealand night? And what is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise?
Bird Sense addresses questions like these and many more, by describing the senses of birds that enable them to interpret their environment and to interact with each other. Our affinity for birds is often said to be the result of shared senses--vision and hearing--but how exactly do their senses compare with our own? And what about a bird's sense of taste, or smell, or touch, or the ability to detect the earth's magnetic field? Or the extraordinary ability of desert birds to detect rain hundreds of kilometres away--how do they do it?
Bird Sense is based on a conviction that we have consistently underestimated what goes on in a bird's head. Our understanding of bird behaviour is simultaneously informed and constrained by the way we watch and study them. By drawing attention to the way these frameworks both facilitate and inhibit discovery, Birkhead identifies ways we can escape from them to explore new horizons in bird behaviour.
There has never been a popular book about the senses of birds. No one has previously looked at how birds interpret the world or the way the behaviour of birds is shaped by all their senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of observation and a unique understanding of birds and their behaviour that is firmly grounded in science.
"With clear gusto for his subject, animal behavior expert Birkhead (The Wisdom of Birds) breaks down what it might be like to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as a bird. Tracing the insights, clever experiments, and surprise contributions that have helped debunk myths about birds' senses, he takes us to Caripe, Venezuela, where a Harvard undergrad discovered that the cave-dwelling guÃ¡charo can navigate in total darkness via echolocation, and introduces us to Betsy Bang, the amateur ornithologist who persuaded the scientific community in the 1960s that birds can smell. After walking us through the five familiar senses that birds share with humans, he also shows how they may be able to orient themselves by the earth's magnetic field using magnetite crystals within their beaks or even by seeing the field, the way we might a cloud or a tree. And he considers less tangible feelings, too. Although little is known about birds' emotions, Birkhead makes reasonable behavior-based guesses about what a bird might feel when glimpsing a predator, losing a skirmish with a rival, or reuniting with a mate. The well-organized book takes pains to explain any avian jargon, making for an uncomplicated, entertaining read perfect for birdwatchers and animal enthusiasts. Agent: Felicity Bryan, Felicity Bryan Associates (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
A captivating exploration of the homing instinct in animals, and what it means for human happiness and survival, from the celebrated naturalist and author of Mind of the Raven, Why We Run, and Life Everlasting
Acclaimed scientist and author Bernd Heinrich has returned every year since boyhood to a beloved patch of western Maine woods. What is the biology in humansand#160;of this deep-in-the-bones pull toward a particular place, and how is it related to animal homing?
Heinrich explores the fascinating science chipping away at the mysteries of animal migration:and#160;how geese imprint true visual landscape memory; how scent trails are used by many creatures, from fish to insects to amphibians, to pinpoint their home if they are displaced from it; and how the tiniest of songbirds are equipped for solar and magnetic orienteering over vast distances.and#160;Most movingly, Heinrich chronicles the spring return of a pair of sandhill cranes to their home pond in the Alaska tundra. With his trademark and#8220;marvelous, mind-alteringand#8221; prose (Los Angeles Times), he portrays the unmistakable signs of deep psychological emotion in the newly arrived birdsand#8212;and reminds us that to discount our own emotions toward home is to ignore biology itself.
What is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise? How do desert birds detect rain hundreds of kilometers away? How do birds navigate by using an innate magnetic compass? Tracing the history of how our knowledge about birds has grown, particularly through advances in technology over the past fifty years, Bird Sense tells captivating stories about how birds interact with one another and their environment.Never before has there been a popular book about how intricately bird behavior is shaped by birds' senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of fieldwork experiences, insights, and a unique understanding of birds, all firmly grounded in science. No one who reads Bird Sense can fail to be dazzled by it.
About the Author
Tim Birkhead is a professor at the University of Sheffield where he teaches animal behaviour and the history of science. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and his research has taken him all over the world in the quest to understand the lives of birds. He has written for The Independent, New Scientist, BBC Wildlife. Among his other books are Promiscuity, Great Auk Islands, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Birds. which won the McColvin medal, The Red Canary, which won the Consul Cremer Prize, and The Wisdom of Birds. He is married with three children and lives in Sheffield.
Table of Contents
Cranes Coming Homeand#8195;5
Getting to a Good Placeand#8195;37
By the Sun, Stars, and Magnetic Compassand#8195;63
Smelling Their Way Homeand#8195;95
Picking the Spotand#8195;109
II. Home-making and Maintaining
Architectures of Homeand#8195;125
Home-making in Surinameand#8195;151
Charlotte II: A Home Within a Homeand#8195;181
The Communal Homeand#8195;201
III. Homing Implications
The In and Out of Boundariesand#8195;221
Of Trees, Rocks, a Bear, and a Homeand#8195;233
On Home Groundand#8195;247
Fire, Hearth, and Homeand#8195;269
Homing to the Herdand#8195;283
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