Cover Image: A Short Philosophy of Birds

A Short Philosophy of Birds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A pleasant little book on bird behaviour that asks us to reflect on our own lives and on human society in general to consider how we might we apply the lessons we can learn from birds to improve our own life experience.  It’s a dip in, dip out book - a dipper? :). I enjoyed learning more about bird behaviour but found the philosophical angle a little convoluted.  The illustrations are nice and I’m sure the hard copy will be an attractive book.
Was this review helpful?
I am not an ornithologist, but this book was really really interesting, because it gave me some very interesting (and also funny) information about birds. I just don't like from time to time, the patronizing way of writing of the authors.

Non sono un'ornitologa, ma questo libro é stato molto interessante, o magari proprio perché ero proprio all'oscuro di molte delle informazioni (alcune delle quali molto divertenti) di cui questo libro é pieno. Il mio unico appunto va al linguaggio piuttosto paternalistico e condiscendente utilizzato a volte dagli autori.

Was this review helpful?
If we pay attention, birds have plenty to teach us, whether it’s their adaptability through unpredictable weather or their patience during the time of their ‘eclipse’ plumage, when some species that are moulting are unable to fly and are at their most vulnerable, allowing themselves to grow stronger before soaring once again. They live in the present, they are curious and willing to take risks.

While this book doesn’t reference many specific philosophers or philosophical schools of thought, which I expected a book with ‘philosophy’ in its title would, it does encourage introspection. A reflection of your own life, the way you spend your time and what you place value on. In short chapters this quick read touches on various lessons birds can teach us. Courage, freedom, beauty, romance and death are all mentioned.

Often when I read books that have been translated it can feel like I’ve missed something vital that would have been captured in the original text. I didn’t experience that feeling here so commend Jennifer Higgins on her translation of the text into English.

I have a number of birds of different species that visit me each day and I love watching their behaviour. I’m in awe of the level of trust they afford me and it delights me when I discover something new about their individual personalities. I didn’t think I could appreciate them any more but some of the facts included in this book astounded me. Take the bar-tailed godwit, for instance:

“In spring, the godwit migrates to make its nest in the Arctic. By tracking one of these godwits with a satellite tag, researchers have discovered that they are capable of covering the distance between Alaska and New Zealand - over 7,000 miles - in one go. That equates to flying for a whole week at forty-five miles per hour. Consider, too, that the godwit weighs just 250 grams. What’s more, during this non-stop flight, the godwit rests by allowing only one half of its brain to fall asleep at a time - thereby enabling it to fly continuously through its sleep.”

I really enjoyed Joanna Lisowiec’s illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The flamingoes and duck were two of my favourites.

If I were to nitpick I’d tell you that when facts were stated I would have liked to have seen these backed up with references, such as when it’s mentioned that crows’ brains have “twice as many synaptic connections as that of any mammal.” 

Given the majority of the birds discussed reside in the Northern Hemisphere (unless they’re migrating) I was unfamiliar with the behaviours of some of the specific birds, although I could easily compare these with the birds native to Australia that visit my garden.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and WH Allen, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing, for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. It's quite different and involved messages written in a beautiful way comparing bird and human behaviours. I think any bird lover like me will enjoy this book. and it would make a great gift. 

Thanks a lot to the publisher and NetGalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book manages to be encompass many of  the messages in self-help books in a rather poetic way. Through comparisons between bird behaviour and human behaviour, the authors are able to comment on society at micr and macro level. I never thought lessons from how birds live would resonate with me so profoundly. I just loved this book and I think I will b buying a paper copy copy or two for family and friends.
Was this review helpful?
A Short Philosophy of Birds is a series of short essays about avian behaviour and what humans might stand to learn from birds’ lives: stories of resurrection and forgiveness are told through moulting ducks and gender equality among sandpipers. The result is a mix of natural history and behavioural science with a side of life skills and is both joyful and interesting read. The charming volume on bird behaviour invites us to take a step back from our busy lives and to listen to the tiny philosophers of the sky. 

From the delicate sparrow to the majestic eagle, birds are among the most fascinating species on earth, and there is much to be learned from these paragons of beauty and grace that can be applied to our lives. Filled with elegant illustrations of bird species, this gem of a book celebrates of our friends in the sky, and what they can teach us about the rhythms of life. I will never look at a bird in quite the same way again. Many thanks to WH Allen for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?