Monday, July 9, 2012

New Bird Books July 2012

  Bill saved the male bluebird from a sharpie who barreled between the forsythia and garage, picked the male bluebird off the clothesline pole, and carried him, shrilling, for a distance before Bill's yelling scared the hawk into dropping him! People speak of the "butterfly effect," describing the unknown consequences of a seemingly irrelevant action. Taken to its extreme, one flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil might alter the atmosphere sufficiently to cause a tornado in Texas. Though I couldn't know it, this moment, for me, would herald eight years of the bluebird effect. -From the first chapter. Zickefoose's writing has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered. 

Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird
by Tim Birkhead, Bill Swainson
Most people would love to be able to fly like a bird, but few of us are aware of the other sensations that make being a bird a gloriously unique experience. 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? No one who reads Bird Sense can fail to be dazzled by it.

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.
Suddenly the crow turns his head, caws softly, and glides away, landing on a lamppost directly above a blonde woman. The woman, Lijana Holmes, smiles and calls him "Bela" as she offers him a breakfast of eggs and meat, which she prepares daily. Five-and-a-half years ago we captured Bela and affixed light plastic rings to his legs for identification. So whenever he sees us, the old crow cocks his head, stares, takes flight and swoops low--right at us--screaming a harsh call that we immediately recognize as a bird scold. His family and neighbors hear the cry and join in, flying toward Bela to support his attack, and soon they, too, share his rage. The mobbing crows circle and scream above our heads just as they would do to a predator. Bela's discriminating actions give us remarkable and invaluable information, proving that crows can recognize and remember human faces. We wonder when, or if, he will ever forget (or forgive) us. The gifts of the crow are physical, metaphorical, and far-reaching. - From the Preface


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