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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Good Reads  Ornithology  Biology, Ecology & Behaviour

The Bird Way A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Eat

Popular Science
By: Jennifer Ackerman(Author)
355 pages, b/w illustrations
Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds, provides the latest insights into the scientific research that is rewriting our understanding of bird behaviour and biology.
The Bird Way
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  • The Bird Way ISBN: 9781472152923 Paperback May 2022 In stock
    £8.50 £10.99
  • The Bird Way ISBN: 9781472152909 Hardback Jun 2020 In stock
    £7.99 £14.99
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About this book

"There is the mammal way and there is the bird way." This is one scientist's pithy distinction between mammal brains and bird brains: two ways to make a highly intelligent mind. But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviours they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries. What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They're also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own – deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also, ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play.

Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of – well – birdness: A mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own. Young birds that devote themselves to feeding their siblings and others so competitive they'll stab their nestmates to death. Birds that give gifts and birds that steal, birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves, birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call – and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter.

Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska's Kachemak Bay, Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It's what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.

Customer Reviews


Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science and nature for almost three decades. She is the author of eight books, including The Genius of Birds, which has been translated into twenty languages. Her articles and essays have appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic, The New York Times, and many other publications, Ackerman is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Bunting Fellowship, and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Popular Science
By: Jennifer Ackerman(Author)
355 pages, b/w illustrations
Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds, provides the latest insights into the scientific research that is rewriting our understanding of bird behaviour and biology.
Media reviews

"This book is a celebration of the dizzying variety of bird life and behaviour, one that will enthral birders and non-birders alike [...] The science here is hard, compelling and presented in Ackerman's engaging and jargon-free prose, and on every page there is evidence to support the book's thesis [...] The Bird Way crystallises and threads together these revelations into a book full of wonders large and small."
The Observer (Alex Preston)

"The American author Jennifer Ackerman is not a field researcher, but with her eye for a great story she converts the scientific findings of others into popular books. The Bird Way builds on her previous volume The Genius of Birds (2016), already considered a classic. The new book, while offering a global survey of the latest research into the lives of birds, focuses on Australasia, and confronts the prejudice of so much Euro-American ornithology [...] The real joy of her book is its close attention to some of the specialists of the region [...] Ackerman is also alive to the humour at play in field research."
– Mark Cocker, The Spectator

"In The Bird Way, Jennifer Ackerman digs deeper and ranges farther into bird behaviour, pulling tasty stories out of rich ground as she hops across the continents [...] Like a bowerbird, Ms. Ackerman gathers and displays treasures to amaze and delight – then lets the scientists' stories take center stage [...] Refreshingly, Ackerman spotlights a number of female researchers"
Wall Street Journal

"Ackerman's new book reminds us that we have a lot in common with birds – like us, they are capable of deception and manipulation, not to mention cooperation, culture and communication"
The Washington Post

"From tales of dazzling plumage to anecdotes about almost unfathomable mimicry, Jennifer Ackerman's The Bird Way is a walk through the mysteries, wonders, and peculiarities of the avian world [...] Ackerman's excitement and love for it are evident in her writing. Her superb storytelling paints a rich picture that engages the reader's imagination, making sometimes-hard-to-grasp research accessible"
Science Magazine

"[Ackerman's] exhilarating book will leave you as awestruck by the complexities and contradictions of bird life as she is"
San Francisco Chronicle

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