The Living Bird from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
This year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology celebrated 100 years of connecting people to birds with this incredible guide to birds of North America. Comprised of more than 250 photos from photographer Gerrit Vyn and original essays from Barbara Kingsolver, Jared Diamond, Scott Weidensaul, and others, The Living Bird will delight bird lovers and make bird lovers out of anyone else.
Barbara Kingsolver opens the book wtih a remembrance of her childhood immersion into ornithology by her birding parents. Her essay is followed with one by John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, entitled “How Birds Can Save the World.” Fitzpatrick waxes eloquent about how these charming and wonderful creatures connect humans to nature as no other creature can and serve as barometers for the conditions of their habitats, revealing environmental dynamics in the patterns of their migrations.
Naturalist, researcher, and contributing editor to Audobon, Scott Weidensaul, regales readers with the hidden meaning behind various attributes of our feathered friends such as the color of their feathers, the songs they sing, the architecture of their nests, and their migrations. He tells the story of a red knot, a shorebird he had caught in his research, whose leg band had been placed 15 years before, during which time the bird had flown 270,000 miles.
Other essays are here from authors Jared Diamond (The World Until Yesterday) and Lynda Lynn Haupt (The Urban Beastiary), as well as an essay from Gerrit Vyn on his travels through the Yucatan to photograph flamingos. Amidst all of this, Vyn’s brilliant photos of grosbeaks, sandpipers, sparrows, crossbills, eared grebes, and ruddy ducks are a feast for the eyes.