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What it's like to be a bird cover

All the little things you’ve always wondered about, about birds, is in David Allen Sibley’s What It’s Like to Be a Bird: What Birds Are Doing, and Why. I’m reading it on my tablet, and so have access to the cross links and beautiful color illustrations.

Here, the only “con” of the book: the cross links, which refer to related entries or examples, don’t always link to the correct location; they also don’t offer a return link, so it can be awkward “flipping” back and forth. I assume the print book uses page numbers for cross references.

That’s but a small nit in context of the fun and fascination the book offers. Some of it’s rather complicated—I never did quite grok how feathers are made, despite the illustrations—but overall, it’s for just about all ages, and would be fun to read with a child. People with birdfeeders will get a kick out of knowing that when birds throw seeds around until they find exactly the right one, they’re not just playing with their food or being picky. Many of the illustrations show an “x-ray” view of the bird which proves that under all the feathers they’re basically all chickens inside. Some of the most surprising things have been right under my nose all along; for instance, ducks and geese take off in flight from the water in very different ways. Not to mention…

  • Birds have tastebuds in their beaks.
  • Birds pick and choose different types of seeds for more reasons than I suspected.
  • The truth about dinosaurs and birds.
  • Swans have over 20,000 feathers on their necks alone.

The book is arranged as entries, grouped by topic, eg, feathers and night vision, and by bird. There are lots of bullet points. This sounds dry; the book isn’t. The organization makes the information easier to take in. The book delves into arcane aspects of birds, but the observations on traits that we might see in our backyards or on a walk make it all the better. | Amazon | Indiebound

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