The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future

Jim Robbins. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9353-0
In this deeply felt and well-supported argument for avians’ value to humankind, science writer Robbins (The Man Who Planted Trees) hits the full trifecta for engrossing and satisfying nature writing. He displays a personal involvement with and “soul-stirring wonder” about his subject, a fondness for the sometimes-obsessed researchers who dive deeply into specifics of anatomy and behavior, and a smooth and engaging writing style through which he conveys a huge amount of factual information while keeping his narrative flowing. Robbins credits birds with helping researchers to better understand flight, metacognition, and the process of learning. Through birds we’ve learned more about the history of dinosaurs and ecological equilibrium (birds act as ecological sentinels). Birds provide humans with meat, feathers, and guano. And humans have long been simply enchanted by birdsong. Robbins keeps his focus as much on field laboratories and urban areas as on wild nature, and he values the insights of indigenous peoples gleaned in the field of ethno-ornithology. The world “is fantastically rich and alive with meaning,” Robbins reminds readers, offering correctives to “our inability to sense it” as well as pointers on where to look. Agent: Stuart Bernstein, Stuart Bernstein Representation for Artists. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 05/30/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-1-86395-984-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-5414-5701-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5414-0701-5
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