The Bottom Line
Birdology creates a rich, vibrant picture of avian life, just how alien birds can be and why they fascinate us. In her exploration of seven vastly varied types of birds, Sy Montgomery brings readers closer to every bird they may see.
- Rich avian exploration includes scientific and historic references.
- Vivid detail without being overwhelming.
- Unfamiliar terminology defined in simple, accurate terms.
- Includes bird-related facts and trivia.
- Majority of discussed species are in captivity rather than wild birds.
- Anecdotes often end abruptly and can feel unfinished.
- Title: Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur
- Author: Sy Montgomery
- Publisher: Free Press
- Publication Date: April 2010
- Format: Hardcover (ebook also available)
- Page Count: 260
- ISBN: 978-1-4165-6984-8
- Price: $25.00
Guide Review - Birdology
Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur explores, through the intimate examination of seven different types of birds, the ultimate avian question: "What makes a bird a bird?" Author Sy Montomery takes readers inside the lives of both familiar and unfamiliar birds, and with each one discovers the essential truths about these mysterious creatures, or as she puts it, "these winged aliens who live among us."
Initially the choice of birds studied in Birdology – falconry hawks, racing pigeons, domestic chickens and pet parrots, for example – may put off birders hoping for detailed study of wild birds. Montgomery's passion and insights, however, engage readers with astute and vivid observations such as "[hummingbirds are] little more than bubbles fringed with iridescent feathers—air wrapped in light." The vibrant details of her writing offer readers beautiful visuals without being either overwhelming or predictable. At the same time, scientific study references, historical anecdotes and unique trivia are seamlessly woven into the text to provide a more fulfilling picture of birds than field study observations can reveal.
Montgomery covers different aspects of birds, including physiology, evolution, behavior, intelligence and relationships, addressing each critically and compassionately without anthropomorphizing the birds. While some of her engaging anecdotes end abruptly and can leave readers with a sense of incompleteness, Montgomery's passion and enthusiasm for birds is clear. Readers can't help but be captivated themselves with every new revelation.
Birdology offers both novice and experienced birders precious insights into the most uncommon aspects of even the most common birds, and in the end, readers will develop a greater appreciation for the winged wonders they see. Montgomery says "birds are as ordinary as they are mysterious as powerful as they are fragile, so like us and so beguilingly Other," yet through Birdology she brings every reader a bit close to understanding the charm and complexity of birds and what draws us to them.