Even the most well-informed wildlife enthusiasts will be entertained by the stories and fascinating facts in this beautifully illustrated book. Our ancestors were as interested in birds as we are, but often for different reasons. They hunted, tamed, worshipped and depicted birds, and even bestowed magical properties upon them. Why did ancient writers consider the sparrow such a lustful creature? Which bird was killed and hung up to predict the weather? And what was known as the arse-foot?
Wildlife photographer and history journalist Simon Wills explores the intriguing and at times bizarre stories behind our relationship with birds. Find out why robins feature on Christmas cards, the motivation for the Romans special relationship with woodpeckers, and how Mozart was persuaded to keep a pet starling. What bird did Florence Nightingale carry around in her pocket? How did the blue tit get its name? Whole careers have been created around birds from falconers to ostrich farmers and birds have had great symbolic importance too. Discover, for example, why Raleigh bicycles carry the logo of a heron and why church lecterns are often in the shape of an eagle.
If you enjoy wildlife, then A History of Birds is full of surprises. Pigeons were trained to carry messages in wartime, but did you know that gulls were taught to hunt for U-boats? And which American president's parrot started swearing at his funeral?
Simon Wills is a history journalist and genealogist who writes regularly for magazines such as Your Family History and Family Tree. He has appeared in the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? and contributes to the magazine and annual live show of the same name. He is also a dedicated wildlife photographer, and all the photographs in this book were taken by him.