Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to other wild creatures. We love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically, draw us out into nature to seek their beauty, and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, clothing and feeding ourselves, and providing medical treatments. And they even have much to teach us about being human.
The Wonder of Birds illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind – both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers' flight design; the chickadee's song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a window into the evolution of our own language and our society; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, D.C., proved to be the most effective method for rehabilitating the troubled teenagers placed in charge of their care.
Exploring both cutting-edge scientific research and our oldest cultural beliefs, Robbins moves these astonishing creatures from the background of our lives to the foreground, from the quotidian to the miraculous, showing us that we must fight to save the imperilled bird population, for the sake of both the planet and humankind.
Jim Robbins has written for The New York Times for more than thirty-five years. He has also written for numerous magazines, including Audubon, Conde Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, and Conservation. He has covered environmental and science stories across the United States and around the globe. Robbins is the author of The Man Who Plants Trees; Last Refuge: The Environmental Showdown in the American West; and A Symphony in the Brain: The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback. He is also the co-author of The Open-Focus Brain and Dissolving Pain.
"Using enchanting stories and rich historical references, Jim Robbins explores the role of birds on the evolution of human self-awareness:
– Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"It's one for the birds – what a wonderful book! It will give you wings"
– Rita Mae Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle
"The Wonder of Birds provides a great and well-timed gift: a portrait of the quiet miracles around us on each day of our ordinary lives. By sharing his perspective and insights, Robbins reminds us to slow down and to appreciate – and ultimately to protect – a natural world that is essential for both our physical and our spiritual well-being."
– Michael Punke, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant
"Jim Robbins writes masterfully, with lucid prose and deep insight into the human psyche and natural world. In The Wonder of Birds he illuminates the realm of this extraordinary creature that is both a miracle of physiology and a poetic manifestation of our own transcendence."
– Peter Stark, author of Astoria
"A peregrine falcon and a loggerhead shrike, my flying friends, came into the garden the day The Wonder of Birds arrived. I'm surprised they didn't fly away with it – this exciting book of nature."
– Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of The Global Forest
"Jim Robbins's insight has brought even more perspective into a world I have been discovering most of my life and career with birds."
– Steve Malowski, aviculturist, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden