Sunday book review – Birds & Flowers by Jeff Ollerton


This book persuaded me to be interested in something in which I didn’t think I wanted to be interested.  That’s an achievement for any author – to engage the initially uninterested. And Jeff Ollerton does it through a mixture of his own enthusiasm, very clear explanation of some fairly complex (but beautifully complex) biology and through a lightness of touch and tone that should not be taken for lightness of understanding.

How important are birds in pollinating plants? There is, unsurprisingly, a fair amount about hummingbirds and sunbirds  here but many other groups of birds have parts to play in this tale.

The author has studied bird/flower interactions in the field in many places across most continents and his personal stories of interactions with the living creatures and their human observers bring the subject further into focus.

There is a very good 22-page index and the 19 chapters chop the subject into manageable chunks with titles such as ‘Hitchhikers, drunks and killers’, ‘The curious case of Europe’ and ‘What escapes the eye’.

This is a fine example of a book which is pitched to increase the public understanding of ecology and evolution, and succeeds.

The cover? OK, but the colour scheme grates a little with me as does the massive ampersand. I’d give it 7/10.

Birds & Flowers: an intimate 50 million year relationship by Jeff Ollerton is published by Pelagic.


Signed copies of my most recent book book, Reflections, are available from me.


Contact me at [email protected]


Softback – £20 (incl UK P&P)

Hardback £26 (incl UK P&P)


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