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A lighthearted and broadly cultural and visual approach to learning everything there is to know about birds, bird-watching, birds in history and the arts, and life on the wing. Short narrative pieces are interspersed with sidebars, quotes, top-ten lists, and how-to instructions. Illustrated with photographs, contemporary and archival art, maps, and diagrams, the book has lots of cross-references and riches to find on every page.
I. The Birds in your World
A lively introduction featuring the joys of birds and bird-watching, how birds are everywhere you look, why people enjoy and appreciate them, why they are so amazing and so beloved, and why they have been important to every culture throughout history.
II. The Anatomy of a Bird
A lyrical dissection of the parts of a bird, including digressions on feathers, color, beaks, wings, talons. Size and shape variations and how they respond to environment and evolution. What birds eat and how they eat it.
III. Birds Through the Ages
Birds in ancient and native cultures. Bird myths, legends, and superstitions. Bird gods and goddesses. Famous birds in history such as Caesar's death foretold, St. Francis's Sermon to the Birds, Poe's Raven, Mao Tse Tung's sparrow campaign. Birds as pets, birds as hunting aids, birds as food.
IV. The Life of a Bird
The life cycle of birds, starting with mating behaviors of all sorts of species. Nesting behaviors. Varieties of nests, varieties of eggs.
V. Science Discovers the Bird
Early ornithologists. Catesby, Darwin, Audubon, Peterson. Famous bird artists. Famous bird quests. Bird evolution: birds and dinosaurs.
VI. Birds on the Wing
Flight and how it works. Migration -- how, why, when, where. Maps and amazing facts about bird migrations.
VII. To Be a Birder
Basics including bird-watching, bird taxonomy, how to use a field guide. Simple bird-watching rules of thumb. Where to go, when to go. Equipment needed. Keeping a life list.
VIII. Bringing the Birds Back Home
Attraction and conservation. Birdhouses, bird feeders, bird baths, bird seed choices, protecting birds from predator animals in your neighborhood. National and international conservation efforts. The future of birds.