Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: The Thing with Feathers

A new book has come out recently about the amazing world of birding.  Noah Strycker's new book The Thing with Feathers does a good job of beginning to explore the wonderful world of birds and our human affinity with them.  The book is designed around talking about different aspects of different birds and our human understanding of them.  In many ways, the book hopes to address our images of birds as "bird brains" and start thinking about them as highly complex members of our natural world.  The essays throughout the book do a great of illustrating how amazing the natural is.  Feats of strength, endurance, and intelligence fill this book and all the while help encourage us to become better members and observers of the natural world.  This is a great read and one that I highly recommend for anyone who loves nature, birds, or understanding more about what they see!

I've picked 3 of my favorite stories and scroll to the bottom for some words of wisdom by the author!

Pigeons and Migration - we all know the amazing power of birds on migration.  Strycker encounters a racing pigeon in Oregon and this leads to contemplations and examinations of migrations across the birding world.  Migrations are one of the more truly amazing aspects of the birding world.  Strycker does a good job of outline the wonders and feats that some of our feather friends undergo to reach their nesting grounds and their wintering grounds.

Nutcrackers - This was my favorite chapter.  I've mentioned it to friends and other birders alike. Strycker does a good job illustrating how smart these birds are and how we've gone to great lengths to discover it. I also think we've globe to great lengths to ignore their intelligence but that's another story. this chapter is an enlightening read that does well to introduce the reader to done of the teal bord brains out there.

Hummingbirds - Hummers are amazing creatures. Their stamina, feats of strength, and capacities are easily some of their hallmarks. Burr we don't often imagine these tiny pollenators as fierce competitors and survivalists. Strycker opens us to a whole new way of seeing these tiny competitors. Looking beyond these beautiful and tiny birds, keen observers can find the laws of nature fiercely at work. Hummers are definitely amazing birds that merit more observation and consideration from us as more than a cute little birds that subsist on nectar (also not true)
(C) Noah Stryker and Riverhead Press

Noah Strycker out in the Field

Some words from Author Noah Strycker!

Look! A Seagull - Your style captures your observations quite well.  What do you think is the key to making good observations?

Noah Strycker - The key to good observations - of anything, birds included - is patience and passion. Nobody makes good observations when they're bored. Luckily, birds are fascinating creatures!

LAS - The book centers around essays and adventures.  What would you have liked to include that you didn't?

NS - This book only touches a few highlights of bird behavior. I could only feature 13 out of 10,000+ bird species in the world - and there are so many more stories I would have loved to include! Someday, I will make it to Africa (the only continent I haven't visited yet), and learn the stories of the birds there.

LAS - What birding adventure are you planning next?

NS - I'll be spending this summer in Svalbard, an isolated archipelago about 1,000 miles north of the tip of Norway, as a naturalist guide on several adventure expeditions. Polar bears are the main draw there for most people, but, personally, I'm looking forward to the Ivory Gulls ;)

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