A window on the world of birders – obsessive, passionate, quirky, and always interesting.
There is no denying that many people are crazy for birds. Packed with intriguing facts and exquisite and rare artwork, Birdmania showcases an eclectic and fascinating selection of bird devotees who would do anything for their feathered friends.
In addition to well-known enthusiasts such as Aristotle, Charles Darwin, and Helen Macdonald, Brunner introduces readers to Karl Russ, the pioneer of "bird rooms", who had difficulty renting lodgings when landlords realized who he was; George Lupton, a wealthy Yorkshire lawyer, who commissioned the theft of uniquely patterned eggs every year for twenty years from the same unfortunate female guillemot who never had a chance to raise a chick; George Archibald, who performed mating dances for an endangered whooping crane called Tex to encourage her to lay; and Mervyn Shorthouse, who posed as a wheelchair-bound invalid to steal an estimated ten thousand eggs from the Natural History Museum in Tring.
As Birdmania: A Remarkable Passion for Birds illustrates, people who love birds, whether they are amateurs or professionals, are as captivating and varied as the birds that give flight to their dreams.
Bernd Brunner's work has been published in Lapham's Quarterly, the Paris Review, the Wall Street Journal, Speakeasy, Aeon, and the Huffington Post, and he has lectured at New York's Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts and Culture, the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley, and the Goethe Institute in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. He is the author of an eclectic array of books, including Bears: A Brief History and Inventing the Christmas Tree.
Pete Dunne is the author of numerous books about birds, including Hawks in Flight. He is the vice president of the New Jersey Audubon Society and director of its Cape May Bird Observatory.
Jane Billinghurst's career has been in book publishing in the UK, the US, and Canada, as an editor, publisher, writer, and translator. She is the translator of the international bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben.
"A delightful exploration into the enduring allure of one of nature''s most charismatic creatures."
– Mark Barrow, author of A Passion for Birds
"There are more of us bird crazies out here than you know. Birdmania will make you want to become one, too. As always, Bernd Brunner's writing is scintillating and comprehensive as he explores another mysterious aspect of human obsession."
– David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sing and Survival of the Beautiful
"Like bird watching itself, reading Birdmania is filled with surprises and a sense of discovery. But in this collection it is the watchers, not the birds, who are on display – ornithologists and bird lovers of every description, revealed in sketches and anecdotes that are quirky, intriguing, and always affectionate. Highly enjoyable."
– Thor Hanson, author of Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle
"Birdmania delves into the extraordinarily wide range of people who have observed and documented these beautiful and fascinating creatures. Read this book and be inspired."
– Bernd Heinrich, author of One Wild Bird at a Time
"Brunner's lively prose and provocative imagery discovers that birds and people have had deep and important connections for millennia."
– John Marzluff, author of Welcome to Subirdia and Gifts of the Crow
"An exquisitely beautiful book, Bernd Brunner's survey of our historical and cultural relationship with birds is packed with anecdote and interest, and populated with a cast of fascinating and memorable figures who helped forge how we think of birds today, from adventurers to bird-keepers, artists to ornithologists. These stories about birds are ultimately reflections on the curious nature of humanity itself."
– Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk