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Please note that this book is published under the title Understanding Bird Behavior: An Illustrated Guide to What Birds Do and Why in the US by Princeton University Press and Australia by CSIRO Publishing.
Birds are intelligent, sociable creatures that exhibit a wide array of behaviours – from mobbing and mimicking to mating and joint nesting. Why do they behave as they do? Bringing to light the remarkable actions of birds through examples from species around the world, How to Read a Bird presents engaging vignettes about the private lives of birds, all explained in an evolutionary context.
We discover how birds find food, relying on foraging techniques, tools, and thievery. We learn about the courtship rituals through which birds choose, compete for, woo, and win mates; the familial conflicts that crop up among parents, offspring, and siblings; and the stresses and strains of nesting, including territory defence, nepotism, and relationship sabotage. We see how birds respond to threats and danger – through such unique practices as murmurations, specific alarm calls, distraction displays, and antipredator nest design. We also read about how birds change certain behaviours – preening, migration, breeding, and huddling – based on climate. Richly illustrated, How to Read a Bird explores the increasing focus on how individual birds differ in personality and how big data and citizen scientists are helping to add to what we know about them.
Wenfei Tong is a biologist, conservationist, and nature guide. She is associate editor at Nature Communications and owner of Big Sky Safaris. She is the author of Bird Love: The Family Life of Birds (Princeton).
Ben C. Sheldon is the Luc Hoffmann Professor of Field Ornithology and director of the Edward Grey Institute at the University of Oxford.