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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Books about Bird Behavior

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April 28, 2010

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books about Bird Behavior

Books about environmentalismEvery Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about bird behavior.

The Private Lives of Birds: A Scientist Reveals the Intricacies of Avian Social Life (by Bridget Stutchbury, $25, Walker & Co., June 2010): The stuff of soap operas – adultery, divorce, backstabbing – also applies to the social behavior of birds, according to biologist Bridget Stutchbury who has spent decades studying them. She covers topics such as pairing, parenting, migration, and others, all based on her firsthand observation and research.

Bald Coot and Screaming Loon: Adventures in the Curious, Mysterious and Remarkable World of Birds (by Niall Edworthy, $18, Penguin, Mar. 2010): Edworthy enthusiastically tackles some of the basic questions about birds – why do they fly? How did they evolve? In witty, colorful prose, he presents us with a slew of fascinating avian facts and anecdotes that make for fun reading.

Do Hummingbirds Hum? Fascinating Questions about Hummingbirds (by George C. West and Carol A. Butler, $22, Rutgers University Press, Apr. 2010): This accessible question-and-answer guide covers virtually everything known about hummingbirds, from their complex biology and reproductive behaviors, to their flight and migration patterns. A chapter about attracting and feeding them is useful for those who want to experience these amazing birds up close.

Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo: Migratory Birds and the Impending Ecological Catastrophe (by Michael McCarthy, $27, Ivan R. Dee, Apr. 2010): This book is less about actual birds and more about their niche in the human psyche. McCarthy ponders the annual return to Europe and North America of millions of migrating birds, contemplating their role as heralds of spring and what we would lose if this ancient ritual ceased.

Owl (by Desmond Morris, $20, University of Chicago Press, Oct 2009): In this small, elegant volume, Morris explores our paradoxical relationship with the owl, symbol of both wisdom and evil. He examines its depiction in mythology, literature, and art and provides an overview of its fascinating biology. Beautiful photographs illustrate the allure of this mysterious creature.
 
--Wendy Becktold

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