DB 28 (1) 2006
Christopher Helm/A&C Black Publishers Ltd, 37 Soho Square,London W1D 3QZ, UK; e-mail ornithology@acblack.
com, website www.acblack.com. 192 pp. ISBN 0-7136-6815-6.GBP 9.99.
Probably all birders will have been confronted at some
time with an unexpected question on birds by their
non-birding neighbour or other layman, for which they
could not come up with an immediate answer. And, be
honest, you most certainly will have some unanswered
questions yourself? This nice book by Stephen Moss
might well provide the (beginning of) an answer!
As already suggested by the title, the book takes a
humoristic (yet serious!) approach to all sorts of questions
relating to birds, giving answers with facts and
figures. The questions are grouped into 10 main themes:
What is a bird? (physiology); Where do birds come
from? (evolution and classification); How many birds are
there? (population); Where do birds live? (distribution);
How do birds move? (locomotion); What do birds eat?
(feeding); Why do birds sing? (communication); How do
birds reproduce? (breeding); Where do birds go? (migration);
How do we relate to birds? (birds and people).
Just a small sample of questions taken from these
themes: Why don't waterbirds get frostbite? What about
the Phylogenetic Species Concept? How many birds
have become extinct in recent times? What is a 'cline'?
Should I feed birds all year round? (Yes!) How many
brood parasites are there? How did migration come
about in the first place? Which is the first bird mentioned
in The Bible? How many species are mentioned in
Shakespeare? Why are Robins associated with Christmas?
Why are girls sometimes referred to as 'birds'?
A very enjoyable read! ANDRÉ J VAN LOON