The first behind-the-scenes account of life with the legendary ravens at the world's eeriest monument
The ravens at the Tower of London are of mighty importance: rumor has it that if a raven from the Tower should ever leave, the city will fall.
The title of Ravenmaster, therefore, is a serious title indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for the infamous ravens. In The Ravenmaster, he lets us in on his life as he feeds his birds raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood, buys their food at Smithfield Market, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy, and ready to captivate the four million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.
A rewarding, intimate, and inspiring partnership has developed between the ravens and their charismatic and charming human, the Ravenmaster, who shares the folklore, history, and superstitions surrounding the ravens and the Tower. Shining a light on the behavior of the birds, their pecking order and social structure, and the tricks they play on us, Skaife shows who the Tower's true guardians really are--and the result is a compelling and irreverent narrative that will surprise and enchant.
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.
A Shadow Above chronicles the return of the raven and the people who have made that comeback possible.
For centuries, the raven Corvus Corax has stalked us in life and in death. Excavations of Bronze Age settlements in Britain have revealed raven bones mingled with human remains. The Viking and Norman warriors that stormed these shores did so sporting ravens on their shields and banners. By the 15th century the service the birds provided scavenging and picking clean bodies on the streets of British cities led to their protection, under the first-ever piece of nature conservation legislation.
Yet by the 1700s this relationship between humans and the raven had soured. The birds came to be regarded as vermin--representative of something deeper and more visceral--and were driven out of towns and cities with a hatred that moved into savagery. By the close of the 19th century, ravens clung on only in the furthest outposts of the United Kingdom--the southwest, west Wales, and the Scottish uplands--and this remained the case throughout most of the last century, but the past decade has witnessed a remarkable comeback. Raven numbers have increased by 134 percent since the turn of the millennium and there are now well over 12,000 breeding pairs across the country, with these moving ever closer to human settlements.
The history of this bird embodies our best and worst impulses, and symbolizes our deepest fears. Ravens became ingrained in our culture as omens of death, and we projected our own deepest fears on to them.
Joe Shute's book chronicles the return of the raven, and the people who have made that comeback possible. In it, he travels to every corner of the UK, meeting those who have spent the past ten years recording every sound and sighting, and showing why these birds reflect and provoke our innermost feelings.
"Fraser's Penguins is a brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying account of what's happening at the bottom of our world."--Nathaniel Philbrick, author of The Last Stand, In the Heart of the Sea, and Sea of Glory
Called "exceptionally poignant" by Nature magazine, Fen Montaigne's sensitive and timely account of five months in Antarctica gives a taste of the global changes that will soon arrive in our own backyards. Scientist Bill Fraser has devoted three decades to Antarctica, and in that time this breathtaking region has warmed faster than any place on earth, with profound consequences for the Ad lies, the classic tuxedoed penguin that is dependent on sea ice to survive. During the Antarctic spring and summer of 2005-2006, author Fen Montaigne spent five months working on Fraser's field team, and he returned with a moving tale that chronicles the beauty of the wildest place on earth, the lives of the beloved Ad lies, the saga of the discovery of the Antarctic Peninsula, and the story--told through Fraser's work--of how rising temperatures are swiftly changing this part of the world. It's Montaigne's "descriptive prowess, his ability to evoke lavender--and cobalt, magenta and violet--without waxing purple, that most impresses" (New York Times Book Review) as he chronicles the penguins' plight, which is also our own.
Owls command our attention. They are the quintessential emblem of darkness, evoking strong cultural responses. Northern Europe's 12 owl species range from the huge Great Grey, with a round head as large as a child's, to the tiny Pigmy Owl, possessing a strength and ferocity that belie its size. For Jari Peltomaki and David Tipling, two of the world's finest bird photographers, owls have become a passion. This book, Owls, explores the fascinating lives of owls, accompanied by riveting diary accounts from the authors' adventures photographing in Europe's wildest places. Encounters with owls are often fleeting - the hoot of a Tawny Owl emanating from a church yard or the white ghost-like flash of a Barn Owl momentarily caught in the headlights. Owls reveals their secret lives in spectacular pictures, many published here for the first time.
In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world's birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species--by far the biggest birding year on record.
This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us--and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.
This handy book is a comprehensive photographic study of over 150 exquisite full-color pictures of mallards from diverse regions in many natural environments and body positions. Most of the ducks shown are wild, but there are a few penned. The majority are in full breeding plumage while a few drakes in moult are included for identification. Author/photographer Tricia Veasey demonstrates in Mallards both her enthusiasm for this species of bird and her photographic talent. She has created here an excellent source book for artists, carvers, taxidermists and naturalists alike that will delight and inspire each individually.
This is the story of how a nation reversed a "silent spring" and saved the bald eagle from extinction. This bird of prey was declared the national symbol in 1782 but, by the 1960s, pollution and development had wiped out all but a few dozen. Grassroots movements started, the American consciousness was raised to all environmental threats, and federal laws were passed to keep the eagle population alive. This stunning book of full-color photographs and touching stories chronicles this inspiring success story with awe-inspiring shots of eagles in flight. There is also a one-of-a-kind directory to more than 150 areas in the nation where eagles are likely to be seen in the wild, soaring once again against the blue skies of freedom. This book is a monument to the efforts that combined animal instinct for survival with the power of the human spirit to change the world.