288 pages, b/w illustrations
An entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world – and deep connection with humanity. Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.
The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries – revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.
Noah Strycker is a birder and naturalist who has traveled the world in pursuit of his flighty subjects. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, he spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and reveals the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds.
"[...] The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human was written by someone who is obviously captivated by birds and wants everyone to know just how amazing these creatures are. Those that don’t yet know a lot about birds will get the most out of it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a birder to appreciate this book. But even long-time birders will get something out of it, especially from the juxtaposition of bird and human behavior, which is particularly enlightening."
- Grant McCreary (21-08-2014), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"[Strycker] combines the latest in ornithological science with snippets of history and his own vast experience in the field to hatch a thoroughly entertaining examination of bird behavior [...] In Strycker's absorbing survey, we find out how much fun it is simply to watch them."
– Booklist, starred review
"[Strycker's] prose is difficult to stop reading."
– Publishers Weekly
"A delightful book with broad appeal."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A dazzling variety of avian subjects, including connections between birds and humans."
– Library Journal
"Noah Strycker explores the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book."
– Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and The First Frontier
"A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchies – a work of dazzling range, nimbly written."
– Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper
"I've read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I've been waiting for. Birds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject."
– Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat
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Noah Strycker is an Oregon State University graduate. He has studied birds around the globe, including on Southeast Farallon Island; in the Kimberley, Australia; in Hawaii; and in the Antarctic. He is Associate Editor of the American Birding Association's magazine, Birding.