Seeing, hearing, touch, taste, smell, magnetic sense and emotions are the chapters under which Prof Tim Birkhead FRS discusses what it’s like to be a bird.
It’s a good read and I learned a lot about how we people sense the world around us as well as how birds sense it differently.
How do birds sense distant rain? How do oilbirds and owls navigate in the dark? Which eye will let robins sense the Earth’s magnetic field? How do dunnocks feel when they copulate for a tenth of a second but hundreds of times a day? What is it like to be an emperor penguin diving down to 400m in the Antarctic seas? These are the types of question that Tim Birkhead adresses in this book and although he doesn’t completely answer all of them (ask a dunnock is my only suggestion) he takes the reader either to the answer or as close to it as science has so far achieved.
All this is wrapped up with stories of Tim in the field – hooking guillemots off their ledges, grabbing kiwis or catching corncrakes. Serious and distinguished scientist though he is, Tim Birkhead knows birds from watching and noticing as well as studying and experimenting.
One of the reasons that we are so keen on birds (you are too, aren’t you?) is probably that we are strange mammals. We share the birds’ world of hearing and sight rather than the typical mammal’s world of touch and smell. This book gets you into the head of a bird so that we can understand better quite how well an eagle sees and how keenly an owl hears.
Read this book – it will delight your senses.
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