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Good Reads  Ornithology  Biology, Ecology & Behaviour

A World on the Wing The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds

By: Scott Weidensaul(Author)
401 pages, 16 plates with colour photos; b/w maps
Publisher: Picador
An exhilarating exploration of the science and wonder of global bird migration.
A World on the Wing
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  • A World on the Wing ISBN: 9781509841059 Paperback Apr 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
  • A World on the Wing ISBN: 9781509841035 Hardback Mar 2021 In stock
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About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In the past two decades, our understanding of the navigational and physiological feats that enable birds to cross immense oceans, fly above the highest mountains, or remain in unbroken flight for months at a stretch has exploded. Certain species, such as thrushes, avoid dehydration by "drinking" from their own muscles and organs, extending their flight range by more than two thousand miles; it now seems all but certain that birds orient themselves using Earth's magnetic field through a form of quantum entanglement that made Einstein queasy.

These and other revelations convey both the wonder of bird migration and its global sweep, from the mudflats of the Yellow Sea in China to the remote mountains of northeastern India to the dusty hills of southern Cyprus. This breathtaking work of nature writing also introduces readers to those scientists, researchers, and bird lovers trying to preserve global migratory patterns in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges.

Customer Reviews


Scott Weidensaul is the author of nearly thirty books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Living on the Wind. A writer and re-searcher specializing in birds and bird migration, he is a native of Pennsylvania now living in New Hampshire.

By: Scott Weidensaul(Author)
401 pages, 16 plates with colour photos; b/w maps
Publisher: Picador
An exhilarating exploration of the science and wonder of global bird migration.
Media reviews

"A vaulting triumph of a book. Scott Weidensaul unravels the miracles and mysteries of bird migration like an ace detective. Compelling and often deeply moving, this is a summons for international co-operation and global conservation like no other."
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

"As much as the book is upbeat and celebratory, Weidensaul is fearless in describing the acute challenges that face the birds he loves [...] a superb globetrotting survey of avian restlessness that reaches one core conclusion. Migrants may seem like here-today-gone-tomorrow nomads but they are really inhabitants of a single place and one living system, on which they and humans depend equally: the entire Earth."
– Mark Cocker, Spectator

"A master storyteller who is also profoundly involved in scientific ornithology [...] Weidensaul communicates so much joy in the sheer act of witnessing and such exhilaration in the advances of the science behind what he sees, that we are slow to grasp the extent of the ecological crisis that he outlines"

"In vivid prose that conjures up the rich spell of each landscape, Scott Weidensaul takes us on exhilarating expeditions that crisscross the globe and travel deep into the heart of nature. For lifelong experts and backyard birders alike, he’s a superb guide to the winged marvels that share our planet and our lives."
– Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife

"Weidensaul’s dispatches are fascinating. Chapter by chapter, my jaw dropped and my eyes widened. The science of bird migration has reached a golden age, and we’re lucky to have such a graceful guide. This book is instantly among my all-time favorites, and one I’ll keep to re-read."
– Noah Strycker, author of Birding Without Borders

"The miracle of birds meets the miracle of technology in Scott Weidensaul’s wondrous new book A World on the Wing. While there are huge gaps in our knowledge of migration, and despair in our race to save species, advances in technology from microscopic transmitters to agile drones are changing the equation and making the future look hopeful. This is a book you won’t want to put down."
– Jane Alexander, actress, writer and wildlife conservationist

"Scott Weidensaul, one of our finest nature writers, has produced another instant classic. In A World on the Wing he takes a pair of highly complex subjects – global patterns of bird migration, and the research into those patterns – and brings them to life with his own amazing adventures around the world. Here is proof that a book of solid science can also be a pageturner. Highly recommended for anyone curious about the natural world."
– Kenn Kaufman, author of the Kaufman Field Guides

"A World on the Wing brims with spectacle [...] As the birds flit through these pages, but with ever less frequency through our lives, we can only hope that birders and non-birders alike take inspiration and a call to action from A World on the Wing. This is the kind of book we've been waiting for."
New York Times

"Mr. Weidensaul takes us to places we'll likely never go, then deftly steps back to let us experience the scene. In an era when travel, for most, has sputtered to a stop, A World on the Wing is a bracing tonic. The author slips in facts and figures so painlessly, so richly embedded in emotional context, that you can absorb and truly appreciate their import"
Wall Street Journal

"Many mysteries of bird life and migration are revealed in this compelling and illuminating in-the-field narrative complete with maps and photographs."

"Based on recent scientific research and his own research and bird observations [...] Each chapter on the different bird species and migration experiences will vibrantly inform readers about the habits of migratory birds"
Library Journal

"As in many of his previous books, Weidensaul is a peerless guide, sharing his intoxicating passion and decadeslong experience with countless bird species all over the world [...] Another winner from Weidensaul that belongs in every birder's library"
Kirkus Reviews

"Remarkable [...] Bird enthusiasts and fans of nature writing shouldn't miss this"
Publishers Weekly

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