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Birds of the Homeplace: The Lives of Ireland's Familiar Birds

Popular Science

By: Anthony McGeehan(Author), Julian Wyllie(Author)

232 pages, colour photos

The Collins Press

Hardback | Sep 2014 | #214716 | ISBN-13: 9781848892293
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $27/€23 approx

About this book

No matter where one lives there are birds: in gardens, neighbourhoods, on farms, in towns or cities. Once you look, they become familiar and interest sparks - a whole new world of wonder. This shared existence begins at the back door, although birds have been around for 145 million years, a lot longer than us humans. Anthony McGeehan became fascinated with birds around his childhood home. Now he respects them as superior beings. His has been a reporter's journey to gather all the facts about how Ireland's birds live their lives. Some grow brain tissue to enlarge their memory capacity of where they hide food. Blackbirds search for prey they cannot see. Songbirds lose ten per cent of body weight overnight. All birds can manage without water to drink. Inside eggs chicks call to each other. How do Swallows avoid dying from thirst crossing the Sahara? Why do some species decline while others thrive? Can we encourage more to visit our homeplace? Over 70 species are centre stage in these innovative descriptions bringing alive the feathered characters of Irish neighbourhoods. 'Common-or-garden' is a term that has patronised Ireland's familiar birds for too long. Showcased in thought-provoking words and illustrated to look their best, discover how they live and appreciate them even more.

"This is Anthony’s second book within two years concerning Irish birds. The first half of the book is a series of 25 short chapters concerning the lives of birds. There are chapters for instance on longevity, migration, one entitled Blackcap’s Belle Époque, a chapter that just had to be included as Ireland is so important for wintering Blackcaps, and a chapter entitled Dull as a Dunnock (and we all know where that is going thanks to Nick Davies). These chapters are brilliantly written, combining up-to-date knowledge with Anthony’s acute vision of the natural world. The second half of the book concerns the lives of 80 of Ireland’s familiar birds. Anthony has used his vast first-hand experience of observing birds, not at a gallop, but at the slow methodical pace which has allowed him to observe the tiniest detail of birds’ everyday lives. Each of the species accounts is meticulously written and engages the reader throughout and will be sure to encourage readers to sharpen their own observations. The book is lavishly illustrated with wonderful photographs.

And yet again, The Collins Press has produced a book of outstanding quality which will appeal not only to Irish but British birdwatchers as well."

- Julian Greenwood, BTO book reviews

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Anthony McGeehan, from Belfast, has been watching and photographing birds since childhood. Today, he leads birdwatching tours and assists BirdWatch Ireland. Widely published in magazines and newspapers, his book Birds Through Irish Eyes (2012) attracted much favourable comment.

Julian Wyllie is one of the last birders who learned to read with The Observer's Book of Birds. Sharing his love for the natural world with a fascination for post-1965 underground music, he worked as a second-hand record dealer, as a dishwasher and for conservation bodies. He lives on Sherkin Island in West Cork, birding or listening to The Fall.

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