Birds and Us

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Since the dawn of human history, birds have stirred our imagination, inspiring and challenging our ideas about science, faith, art and philosophy.

Looking to the skies above, we have variously worshipped them as gods, hunted them for sustenance, adorned ourselves in their feathers, studied their wings to engineer flight and, more recently, attempted to protect them.

In Birds and Us, award-winning writer and ornithologist Tim Birkhead takes us on an epic and dazzling journey through this mutual history with birds, from the ibises mummified and deified by Ancient Egyptians to Renaissance experiments on woodpecker anatomy, from Victorian obsessions with egg collecting to the present fight to save endangered species and restore their habitats.

Weaving in stories from his own life as a scientist, including far-flung expeditions to wondrous Neolithic caves in Spain and the bustling guillemot colonies of the Faroe Islands, this rich and fascinating book is the culmination of a lifetime’s research and unforgettably shows how birds shaped us, and how we have shaped them.

© Tim Birkhead 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • ‘Tim Birkhead is an eminent scientific ornithologist and a masterful science communicator. Birds and Us wings its way through 12,000 years of our species’ engagement with the avian world. He tells it all with delightful gusto, plaiting personal encounters (with birds and bird-people) with challenging historical research and bewitching scientific rigor’

    Tim Dee
  • ‘Thought-provoking at every turn, this inspiring, shocking, wonder-filled exploration of our relationship with birds from earliest times delivers a sobering challenge to us living with birds today’

    Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
  • ‘A fascinating book about the close and often surprising relationship between birds and people, written by one of our leading ornithologists’

    Stephen Moss
  • ‘A compelling combination of first-hand experiences, human stories, birdlore and scientific puzzles that take us through a 12,000-year pageant to the present day…the whole narrative fizzes with his infectious enthusiasm, curiosity and energy’

    TLS
  • ‘Birkhead’s approach to writing – hard, clear sentences; deep, revelatory looking – has the same effect as his microscope, making us see the familiar with new eyes’

    Alex Preston
  • ‘A brilliant and passionate celebration – how birds enrich our lives and now, more than ever, depend on us’

    Nick Davies, author of Cuckoo

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