The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 159463341X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

An entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world—and deep connection with humanity.
Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As we learn more about the secrets of bird life, we are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, relationships, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatrosses, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, Noah Strycker spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and shares the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds. You’ve never read a book about birds like this one.

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that still doesn’t explain how it happened. — SNOWY OWLS AREN’T THE ONLY BIRDS to make periodic winter irruptions. Type the words bird irruption into Google, and you’ll get blizzarded with reports of redpolls, grosbeaks, crossbills, nuthatches, chickadees, and waxwings, among others. All of these birds have something in common: They live in the far north or high mountains. And every few winters, large numbers of them show up in lower, more southern areas, outside their normal range. These

into the entryway. And if the next line dealt with a beautiful woman, Simonides would picture her waiting at the foot of the staircase after he’d squeezed past the moon. He found that by using this strategy, he could keep many images ordered in his mind, and retain the nuggets he needed to remember. At least, that’s the story. Simonides’ accomplishments are now chronicled only on a few papyrus fragments, so nobody knows whether he really escaped from a collapsing building 2,500 years ago

just three years before he won the event. Anyone, he says, can train to speedily cram information. Memorization stunts are all about forming associations and creating story lines from static data, even if, as in the case of numbers and playing cards, those stories have nothing to do with the content. To prepare for the random-numbers event in the contest, Dellis painstakingly pre-memorized a list of 999 people, each one associated with a number, action, and object. Number 124, for instance,

wandered into the bachelor pad of Australia’s winged Casanova, the serial womanizer of the avian kingdom—the great bowerbird. I stepped back a few paces and tried to recall everything I knew about bowerbirds while this one, apparently a trusting sort, hopped down to ground level and with barely a glance in my direction set to work on his bower. He first checked over the piles of loose objects, which must have been selected and gathered with care from the surrounding bush. Head cocked, he stepped

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) to Three Carrion-Associated Odorants.” Information about avian taste buds is given in Frank Gill’s Ornithology textbook (2007 edition). SNOW FLURRIES The Duluth snowy owl sighting was first reported on the local birding listserv mou-net. Snowy owl totals for the 2011–2012 invasion were based on thousands of reports archived on The New York Times story by Jim Robbins was published on January 22, 2012. I saw the Fern Ridge snowy owl on December 19, 2011.

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