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The British love their birds, which are inextricably entwined with every aspect of their island life. British customs, more than 1,000 years of English literature, the very fabric of society, even the landscape itself, have all been enhanced by the presence of birds. Now, at last, here is a book which pays tribute to the remarkable relationship forged between a nation and its most treasured national heritage.
Birds Britannica is neither an identification guide nor a behavioural study (though both these subjects enter its field), it concentrates on our social history and on the cultural links between humans and birds. It includes observations and experiences from more than 1,000 naturalists and bird lovers. These contributions from the public touch on aviation ecology; the lore and language of birds; their myths, the art and literature they have inspired; birds as food; and the crucial role they play in our sense of place and the changing seasons.
Birds Britannica has taken eight years to research and write, and has been assembled by a team which includes some of the finest writers and image-makers of British wildlife. On one level, it is a remarkable collection of humorous stories, field observations and tales of joy, wonder and occasional woe; on another, it is a nationwide chronicle. Scholarly and wide-ranging, a mix of the traditional and the contemporary, Birds Britannica is a comprehensive record of birdlife in the early years of the twenty-first century.
Mark Cocker is one of Britain's foremost writers on nature and contributes regularly to the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, as well as BBC Radio Four. His book Crow Country was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008 and won the New Angle Prize for Literature 2009. With the photographer David Tipling he published Birds & People in 2013, a massive survey described by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘a major literary event as well as an ornithological one’. Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late? was shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2019 and his most recent book, A Claxton Diary, is shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2019.
Richard Mabey is the father of modern nature writing in the UK. Since 1972 he has written some forty influential books, including the prize-winning Nature Cure, Gilbert White: A Biography, and Flora Britannica. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Vice-President of the Open Spaces Society. He spent the first half of his life amongst the Chiltern beechwoods and now lives in Norfolk in a house surrounded by ash trees.