** The Meaning of Birds by Simon Barnes

A true birder would undoubtedly enjoy The Meaning of Birds infinitely more than I did, but it is a charming compendium of stories about various birds, mostly UK birds since the author live there. Some chapters are mostly about science: flying, what birds can see, while others are about our relationships to birds: using the feathers, eating them, shooting them for sport — all lively and full of finely observed details.

My only gripe is that, although the author is aiming at a general public, his idea of general public is one that includes instantaneously conjuring up the picture of a marsh harrier, for instance. (He does provide many illustrations, but not for all the birds he mentions.)

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