On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling in a Viennese shop who sang an improvised version of the theme from his Piano Concerto no. 17 in G major. Sensing a kindred spirit in the plucky young bird, Mozart bought him and took him home to be a family pet. For three years, the starling lived with Mozart, influencing his work and serving as his companion, distraction, consolation, and muse.Two centuries later, starlings are reviled by even the most compassionate conservationists. A nonnative, invasive species, they invade sensitive habitats, outcompete local birds for nest sites and food, and decimate crops. A seasoned birder and naturalist, Lyanda Lynn Haupt is well versed in the difficult and often strained relationships these birds have with other species and the environment. But after rescuing a baby starling of her own, Haupt found herself enchanted by the same intelligence and playful spirit that had so charmed her favorite composer. In Mozart's Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely and remarkable bond between one of history's most cherished composers and one of earth's most common birds. The intertwined stories of Mozart's beloved pet and Haupt's own starling provide an unexpected window into human-animal friendships, music, the secret world of starlings, and the nature of creative inspiration. A blend of natural history, biography, and memoir, Mozart's Starling is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world.
Things are going wrong with our environment, writes John Terborgh, even the parts of it that are nominally protected. If we wait until all the answers are in, we may find ourselves in a much worse predicament than if we had taken notice of the problem earlier. By waiting, one risks being too late; on the other hand, there can be no such thing as being too early. Terborgh's warnings are essential reading for all who care about migratory birds and our natural environment. Why are tropical migrant species disappearing from our forests? Can we save the birds that are left? Terborgh takes a more comprehensive view of migratory birds than is usual--by asking how they spend their lives during the half-year they reside in the tropics. By scrutinizing ill-planned urban and suburban development in the United States and the tropical deforestation of Central and South America, he summarizes our knowledge of the subtle combination of circumstances that is devastating our bird populations. This work is pervaded by Terborgh's love for the thrushes, warblers, vireos, cuckoos, flycatchers, and tanagers that inhabited his family's woodland acreage while he was growing upbirds that no longer live there, in spite of the preservation of those same woods as part of a county park. The book is a tour of topics as varied as ecological monitoring, the plight of the Chesapeake wetlands, the survival struggle of Central American subsistence farmers, and the management of commercial forests.-- "Naturalist Review, Audubon Naturalist Society"
The magnificent story of the natural world's most epic journeys.
At whatever moment you read these words, there are birds aloft in the skies of the Western Hemisphere, migrating. If it is spring or fall, the great pivot points of the year, then the continents are swarming with hundreds of millions of traveling birds-a flood so great that even the most ignorant or unobservant notice the skeins of geese and the flocks of robins.
Bird migration is the one truly unifying natural phenomenon in the world, stitching the continents together in a way that even the great weather systems, which roar out from the poles but fizzle at the equator, fail to do. Scott Weidensaul follows the awesome kettles of hawks over the Mexican coastal plains, the bar-tailed godwits that hitchhike on gale winds 6,000 miles nonstop across the Pacific from Alaska to New Zealand, and the myriad songbirds whose numbers have dwindled so dramatically in recent decades. Migration paths form an elaborate global web that shows serious signs of fraying, and Weidensaul delves into the tragedies of habitat degradation and deforestation with an urgency that brings to life the vast problems these miraculous migrants now face.
A magisterial book, "Living on the Wind" vivifies what may be the most compelling drama of the natural world.
Two of the best-known names in birding--Peterson and Bird Watcher's Digest--team up to provide reliable, expert advice on how to attract the birds you want into your yard.Which birds use nest boxes? What's required to maintain a birdhouse? What kind of habitat will attract which birds? What does it take to be a bluebird trail operator? What does it mean if baby birds or eggs disappear from their nest? Bill Thompson III answers all of these questions and more, helping readers to create yards and gardens where birds will make their homes and raise their young. It's easy enough to hang a birdfeeder. But there are plenty of other things that can attract birds to a landscape--and, in fact, birds need four essentials: food, water, shelter, and a place to nest. The more of these elements a yard has, the more attractive it is to birds. A lavishly illustrated chapter provides ideas and inspiration for creating bird havens by profiling "Birdy Backyard All-Stars," fifteen homeowners from around the country who have actively worked to create bird-friendly habitats.
Can a parrot understand complex concepts and mean what it says? Since the early 1900s, most studies on animal-human communication have focused on great apes and a few cetacean species. Birds were rarely used in similar studies on the grounds that they were merely talented mimics--that they were, after all, "birdbrains." Experiments performed primarily on pigeons in Skinner boxes demonstrated capacities inferior to those of mammals; these results were thought to reflect the capacities of all birds, despite evidence suggesting that species such as jays, crows, and parrots might be capable of more impressive cognitive feats.
Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether the results of the pigeon studies necessarily meant that other birds--particularly the large-brained, highly social parrots--were incapable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.
While birding literature is filled with tales of expert observers spotting rare species in exotic locales, John Yow reminds us that the most fascinating birds can be the ones perched right outside our windows. In thirty-five engaging and sometimes irreverent vignettes, Yow reveals the fascinating lives of the birds we see nearly every day. Following the seasons, he covers forty-two species, discussing the improbable, unusual, and comical aspects of his subjects' lives. Yow offers his own observations, anecdotes, and stories as well as those of America's classic bird writers, such as John James Audubon, Arthur Bent, and Edward Forbush. This unique addition to bird literature combines the fascination of bird life with the pleasure of good reading.
The Art of Falconry by Patrick Morel represents a milestone in titles on the sport, quite unique in scope, style and content. It presents falconry in theory and in practice, celebrating it as both an art form and a living cultural heritage. Far from being merely another "how to" book, however, it takes the reader into the field with contributions from experts in all branches of the sport, and is lavishly illustrated with stunning photographs and artwork. The first new practical falconry treatise in the French language since the 1940s, this English edition brings a fresh perspective to the English-speaking falconer and is further enhanced through contributions from a number of internationally renowned authorities, including British, American and South African falconers and austringers.
A visit to almost any home or garden center presents birders with numerous cute and colorful contraptions that are sold as bird homes. But the fact is, many of these products provide anything but a safe refuge for your feathered friends. Produced in association with the National Audubon Society, Audubon Birdhouse Book explains how to build and place functional DIY bird homes that are safe and appropriate for more than 20 classic North American species, from wrens to raptors. Each of the easy-to-build boxes and shelves within is accompanied by cut lists, specially created line diagrams, and step-by-step photography, making the projects accessible to those with even the most rudimentary woodworking skills. In addition, this practical and beautifully presented guide is packed with color photography and information about the bird species covered--including titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, phoebes, swallows, waterfowl, and even kestrels and owls--to help the reader properly place and maintain the homes to attract birds. And because these projects are the product of years of experience and field-testing, you can be sure you're getting the best advice regarding proper design, safe construction materials, and correct home placement to mitigate exposure to elements, pests, and predators. Finally, beyond the birdhouses, you'll find out how you can contribute to the larger birding community and even enhance your birding experience with the aid of new technologies.
Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide. Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities. Other kinds of avian construction--such as bowers and harvest wells--are also featured.
Avian Architecture includes intricate step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and insightful commentary by a leading expert.
- Illustrates how birds around the world design, engineer, and build their nests
- Features architectural blueprints, step-by-step sequences, visual spreads on nest-building materials and methods, and expert commentary
- Includes 300 full-color images
- Covers more than 100 bird species worldwide