David Attenborough The Life of Birds

ISBN 13: 9780691016337

The Life of Birds

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9780691016337: The Life of Birds
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Based on the spectacular ten-part program on PBS, The Life of Birds is David Attenborough at his characteristic best: presenting the drama, beauty, and eccentricities of the natural world with unusual flair and intelligence. The renowned writer and filmmaker treks through rain forests and deserts, through city streets and isolated wilderness, to bring us an illuminating panorama of every aspect of birds' lives--from their songs to their search for food, from their eggs and nests to their mastery of the air. Beautifully illustrated with more than a hundred color photographs, the book will delight and inform both bird lovers and any general reader with an interest in nature.


Attenborough begins at the beginning: reviewing ideas about how and when creatures first took to the air--and why ostriches, kiwis, and other flightless birds later returned to the ground. He introduces us to the marvels of flight. We encounter the albatross, which can soar for hours without flapping its wings; hummingbirds that beat their wings two hundred times a minute; and the swift, which eats, sleeps, and mates in mid-air. We read about birds' extraordinary methods of hunting and gathering--about crows that use twigs and leaves to hook and harpoon insects, and eagles that can stamp venomous snakes to death. Attenborough explains why and how birds sing and why many have such dazzling plumage. He reviews courtship and mating strategies, including the extravagant dances of cranes and the bizarre and ornate pavilions that male bowerbirds build to attract females. We learn how birds defend their young against predators. Attenborough explains how birds have colonized the globe more effectively than any other vertebrates, adapting to Antarctic winters and African summers, to vast oceans and the densest, most polluted cities. He also outlines the threat that humans pose to many species, showing how we have already driven many to extinction.


The book presents birds in all their complexity and glory, revealing in clear and elegant prose Attenborough's infectious sense of wonder about the rich variety of life on Earth.

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Review:

Tireless explorer of the natural world and wide-ranging traveler, documentary filmmaker and writer David Attenborough has delighted readers and viewers with such productions as Life on Earth and The Living Planet. In this companion to a 10-part PBS series of the same name, Attenborough examines the ways of bird species from prehistoric times to the present, writing, as he admits, from the viewpoint of an amateur with a particular interest in animal behavior. (Those who can distinguish a bird at sight or by song possess a skill, he writes, "which I greatly admire, but one, alas, that I do not possess.") That amateur passion yields a fine overview of avian biology, as Attenborough turns to such matters as the antiquity of birds, which have dominated the air for some 150 million years, and the adaptation of birds to every ecosystem on the planet--for no obstacle, from huge mountains to wide oceans, has been able to stop their colonizing the whole of the globe, including the artificial deserts of major cities, where pigeons and peregrines rule. Graced with 180 color photographs, Attenborough's book will delight birdwatchers, students of animal behavior, and admirers of good writing alike. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Sir David Attenborough, a Fellow of the Royal Society, is also a Trustee of the British Museum and an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. He is an internationally esteemed producer and has written the books accompanying his television series Trials of Life, The Living Planet, Life on Earth, and The Private Life of Plants. The latter book was a number-one bestseller in the United Kingdom and is available from Princeton.

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