The Bird Way: A new look at how birds talk, work, play, parent, and think
by Jennifer Ackerman
Scribe, $35 pb, 355 pp
One of the most bizarre as well as unfortunate deaths in literary history occurred when the playwright Aeschylus was struck by a tortoise dropped on him by a bird. Bizarre, that is, if we don’t consider what the bird involved was doing, which was clever as well as practical. From the bird’s perspective, the tortoise was being dropped on a convenient stone rather than the bald head of a Greek tragedian who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jennifer Ackerman, a leading science writer, is the author of several previous books on birds. Not least among the virtues of The Bird Way is the wealth of Australian material, confirming that this country is an ornithological superpower. Birds are everywhere: we see and hear them even in the most densely populated cities. Notwithstanding human encroachment, birds remain the most spectacular form of wildlife in our daily lives.