Princeton University Press, Octavo, paperback, colour photographs and illustrations, black and white photographs and illustrations, line drawings.
1 x copy only available and then OUT OF PRINT. What draws us to the beauty of a peacock, the flight of an eagle, or the song of a nightingale? Why are birds so significant in our lives and our sense of the world? And what do our ways of thinking about and experiencing birds tell us about ourselves? This is a unique meditation on the variety of human responses to birds, from antiquity to today, and from casual observers to those who travel the globe, risking life and limb to see new species. Drawing extensively on literature, history, philosophy, and science, Mynott puts his own experiences as a birdwatcher in a rich cultural context. His sources range from the familiar Thoreau and Audubon to Puccini and Monty Python. Just as unusual are the extensive illustrations, which explore our perceptions and representations of birds through images such as national emblems, women’s hats, professional sports logos, and a Christmas biscuit tin, as well as classics of bird art. Each chapter takes up a new theme – from rarity, beauty, and sound to conservation, naming, and symbolism. Conversational, playful, and witty, this book gently leads us to reflect on large questions about our relation to birds and the natural world. It encourages birders to see their pursuits in a broader human context – and it shows nonbirders what they may be missing.