Robbins, Jim

Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to other wild creatures. We love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically, draw us out into nature to seek their beauty, and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, clothing and feeding ourselves, and providing medical treatments. And they even have much to teach us about being human.

The Wonder of Birds illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind – both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers’ flight design; the chickadee’s song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a window into the evolution of our own language and our society; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, D.C., proved to be the most effective method for rehabilitating the troubled teenagers placed in charge of their care.

Exploring both cutting-edge scientific research and our oldest cultural beliefs, Robbins moves these astonishing creatures from the background of our lives to the foreground, from the quotidian to the miraculous, showing us that we must fight to save the imperilled bird population, for the sake of both the planet and humankind.

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Black Inc., July 2017.  320 pages, paperback, 28 black and white illustrations