© 1998 Sir David Attenborough
As I drove home from the library last week, I watched a beautiful white bird soar above the highway for several minutes. As it passed close by overhead, I thought to myself that the swan looked fatigued and wondered why it did not stop to rest along side the road. A few days later, I read in this that swans are such large and ungainly birds that they cannot easily land: if they attempt to taper off their speed, they lose momentum completely and plummet awkwardly to the earth. Their most effective recourse is to crash-land into water.
I’ve been enjoying David Attenborough’s series of books based on his nature documentaries, and The Life of Birds continues that pattern. Life of Birds has more substance than the previous works in this series, but retains the same essential approach. After a chapter on the evolution of birds and flight, Attenborough dedicates separate chapters to feeding, communication, mating, nesting, parenting, and adaptation. The last chapter focuses on how birds have adjusted to living inside human cities. Pictures are abundant, if not as ubiquitous as in previous works, and are impressively beautiful and grotesque.
As always, if you are fascinated by the natural world you'll enjoy this book, for it abounds in interesting and often awe-inducing information.