Synopses & Reviews
A lifelong birder, tracker, and naturalist, Jon Young is guided in his work and teaching by three basic premises: the robin, junco, and other songbirds know everything important about their environment, be it backyard or forest; by tuning in to their vocalizations and behavior, we can acquire much of this wisdom for our own pleasure and benefit; and the birds' companion calls and warning alarms are just as important as their songs.
Birds are the sentries — and our key to understanding the world beyond our front door. Unwitting humans create a zone of disturbance that scatters the wildlife. Respectful humans who heed the birds acquire an awareness that radically changes the dynamic. We are welcome in their habitat. The birds don't fly away. The larger animals don't race off. No longer hapless intruders, we now find, see, and engage the deer, the fox, the red-shouldered hawk — even the elusive, whispering wren.
Deep bird language is an ancient discipline, perfected by Native peoples the world over. Finally, science is catching up. This groundbreaking book unites the indigenous knowledge, the latest research, and the author's own experience of four decades in the field to lead us toward a deeper connection to the animals and, in the end, a deeper connection to ourselves.
"The author's boyish enthusiasm and invigorating...blend of tracking skills and modern field ecology...persuades you that you really can learn what he calls 'deep bird language.'" Wall Street Journal
"Jon Young is one of the heroes of the new nature movement, an expansion of traditional environmentalism. With What the Robin Knows, he opens a door to a universe that overlaps modern life, a world lost to most, but found by some." Richard Louv
“Jon Young knows birds, and you will too after reading his marvelous book. You’ll discover a universal bird language that will speak to you wherever you go outdoors. Every nature lover should read this book.” Joseph Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children and John Muir: My Life with Nature
“Jon Young is one of the heroes of the new nature movement....This elegant book will deepen the kinship between humans and other species. It decodes our common language.” Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
“A brilliant work, born of a lifetime of listening, teaching, and tracking what really matters....Jon Young’s work replenishes our humanity.” David Abram, author of Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous
"A sophisticated guide for amateur bird watchers and a door-opener for newbies." Kirkus
"Though primarily geared toward birders and naturalists rather than lay readers, this passionate instruction manual offers enjoyable anecdotes." Publishers Weekly
How understanding bird language and behavior can help us to see more wildlife.
About the Author
Jon Young is on the leading edge of animal tracking and understanding bird language. He has been exploring animal communication for 35 years and was mentored by the famous tracker Tom Brown Jr. as well as a tribal elder in Africa. Jon developed the 8 Shields Cultural Mentoring System, a model that has influenced more than 100 nature programs in communities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and is also creator of the Shikari Method for data collection, which is used by the USFWS. Jon has given over 1,000 public presentations and has mentored numerous students of his own. Married, with six children, Jon lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What the Robin Knows xiii
A Cacophony of Harmony 1
In the Beginning Is the Song 19
More Cacophony of Harmony 28
The Sit Spot 48
An Alarm for Every Occasion 80
Theyre All in This Together 99
A Shape for Every Occasion 119
From Collision to Connection 164
Appendix A: Learning Bird Language 183
Appendix B: Accompanying Audio 199