Reviews

Stuart Winter, Sunday Express 16 December 2012: ‘No book has made me want to quote incredible facts about the feathered creatures that inhabit our planet quite like Tim Birkhead’s masterpiece ‘Bird Sense’…… Be prepared to be amazed’.

Good Book Guide, April 2013: ‘It is a long time since I read such a fascinating book on birds…. A book out of the top drawer!’.

Michael Wilsdon, The London Naturalist 2012: ‘This book is to be recommended. There is a clarity of purpose and lightly worn erudition that guides the reader quickly and entertainingly through the discovery and understanding of .. what it is like to be a bird’.

Ian Fraser, Canberra Times, 7 April 2012: ‘With this book Tim Birkhead has confirmed himself as one of the best English language writers on the science of ornithology in the world today – at least, he’s my favourite. … He has an exquisite gift for telling stories of science that laypeople can be enthralled by. His previous book, The Wisdom of Birds, was a history of the study of birds from Aristotle to the present day, and was a remarkable achievement’.

Stephen Moss, The Guardian, 30 November 2012: ‘Nature book of the year!!!’

Simon Barnes, The Times, Saturday 28 January 2012: ‘Excellent’.

Christopher Hart, Sunday Times, 5 February 2012: A ‘wonderfully engaging and eye-opening book about the many mysteries of bird behaviour’…[Birkhead's] tour of the frontiers of our understanding of birds is stuffed with mind-boggling facts and insights. Thoroughly engaging, it also gives us a thrilling sense of the vast, unmapped territories that lie beyond, waiting to be discovered’.

Peter Parker, Sunday Telegraph, 5 February 2012: ‘An absolutely absorbing book, on almost every page there is an astonishing observation or revelation’.

Dominic Couzens, BBC Wildlife, March 2012: ‘This will be one of the seminal wildlife books of 2012. Not just because it is a great read, but because of the subject it covers … Birkhead is the rare scientist who genuinely enthrals a non-technical audience. His new book will delight specialists and bedtime readers alike’.

Wanstead Birder blog ‘totally captivating… indulgently fascinating … I reckon I learnt something about every three sentences….’

Alex Hunter, A wonderful story that gives an insight into how we humans behave in anticipation of sex. This book will provide those who suffer from erectile.

Jamie Condliffe, New Scientist, 18 February 2012: ‘Birkhead’s writing is wonderfully flavoured by his own insights and experiences…. thoughtful, thoroughly researched and engagingly written throughout’… ‘There’s some sex too’ – the buffalo weaver – the only bird to reach orgasm – a joy to read, simultaneously fascinating and hilarious’.

John Huxley, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 2012: ‘Birkhead …. flies off, with a winning sense of wonderment, a keen sense of history and an encyclopaedic grasp of the latest research, in search of answers to questions that reveal the remarkable life of birds…. His mind, his eye and his heart are in the right place: as he admits, he easily “falls in love with birds” ‘.

Green Magazine, ‘Tim Birkhead knows more than most what goes on in a bird’s head and his passion to tell us turns avian science into a lively and compelling read.’

DaveK Amazon UK, ‘There is something on almost every page that even the most experienced amateur birdwatcher will not know or about which they will gain a greater understanding. It is so interesting that it is difficult to put down – a great page turner! The great strength of this book is that Tim explains things simply and clearly; he has made scientific knowledge available to all – a great gift!’

Mark – View from the Bike shed blog ‘I was lucky enough to hear Tim Birkhead speak at a conference. He has that deceptively relaxed style which gets you laughing at the same time as you’re scribbling down every detail. I came away both smiling and with the feeling I’d just listened to something of real significance….Birkhead’s lecturing prowess is rooted in a command of his subject, combined with the talents of a natural communicator. His new book, Bird Sense: what it’s like to be a bird, takes both these qualities into print. It’s a mind bending account of the ways in which birds perceive the world; a description of their recently discovered ‘super powers’ that’s had me reeling off examples to friends and family for weeks.’

David Wheatley, Guardian, 16 March 2012 ‘Bird Sense is a richly persuasive volume …..This fascinating book has much to teach us, not just about what it means to be a bird, but about the rewards and responsibilities of our coexistence with these wonderful creatures.’

Mark Cocker, The Lady, 16 March 2012 ‘Tim Birkhead, Britain’s foremost populariser of scientific ornithology…’

Alison Boulton Daily News, following Tim’s talk at the Oxford Literary Festival 28 March 2012: ‘Tim Birkhead can charm the birds from the trees. No wonder his wonderfully illustrated talk was sold out. With the aid of video clips, photographs and a masterly ability to evoke the super-senses of the avian world, Birkhead held the audience entranced, and after a galloping romp, the room erupted with questions.’

Tim Dee, Observer, 7 April 2012 ‘The effect of his admirably brisk but sparklingly lucid pages is to refocus the point of view on to us and force a rethink as to what it’s like to be a human sharing the earth with such wonderfully different and yet recognisably similar animals. After such knowledge we might never be quite the same again….. his richly engaging book so deepens our understanding of what is familiar that we are returned to the birds we know around us and the wider world with a revivified sense of how life comes and goes.’

Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, The Times Higher Education, 8 April 2012 ‘Research on the sensory systems of birds has produced dozens of amazing discoveries that are clearly and entertainingly presented in this delightful book, which should interest a wide audience and not just bird lovers. The author has devoted much of his scientific career to his passion for birds. More unusually, he is also a superb popular science writer. Here he again displays his intense intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for natural history without compromising the quality of the science or the scholarship. The result is an engaging mixture of personal anecdotes from all over the world, lesser-known histories of science and expert renditions of current knowledge.’

Bryan Bland, Birding World, April 2012: ‘The great
strength of his book is that all these findings [about the senses of birds] are conveyed in everyday language, avoiding jargon, which is not only clear and simple but endlessly fascinating and frequently humorous….. Without a doubt this first popular examination of the senses of birds fully deserves its claim to be ‘a hugely engaging book about birds, their senses and behaviour that is informed by an attractive blend of personal experience, entertaining stories and cutting-edge science.’ Totally absorbing.

Matt Merritt, Bird Watching, May 2012 ‘Extremely readable.. When talking about emotions, Birkhead does a great job, dignifying birds as individuals without ever falling into sentimentalism or anthropomorphism, while the real highlights for me are when he delves into the real mysteries… There are some superb illustrations by Katrina Van Grouw, and it all adds up to as an enjoyable birding read as I’ve come across in a long time’.

David Nettleship, BIO-Oceans Association Newsletter, July 2012 ‘This is a powerful, thoughtful piece of writing that entertains and educates simultaneously, and transforms avian biology into a means of viewing the living world around us’.

Gabrielle Walker, Nature, 5 July 2012 ‘A behavioural ecologist, he specializes in sperm studies and avian infidelity; his chapter on touch focuses almost indecently on bird sex. Although we will never really know how it feels to be a bird, Birkhead still leaves us with astonishing insight into how they sense their own ways through the world’.

David Parkin, British Birds July 2012 ‘Any bird book that opens with the word ‘Buggered’ deserves more than a cursory glance. And when it’s written by Tim Birkhead, you sit up and take note…. An excellent book: how I wish I could write like that!’

Rob Innes, Cage & Aviary Birds 23 May 2012 ‘It is such a bonus when a cutting-edge scientist can write so well, while (here’s the key) never once sounding like a smart-alec talking down to a bunch of thickos (i.e. the rest of us)….I recommend it enthusiastically’.

Stacy Memering & Todd Shackleford International Society for Human Ethology Bulletin, January 2013 ‘his writing has an inviting quality that will captivate anyone with even the slightest interest in birds. In fewer than 250 pages, he manages to review the history of ornithology, highlighting breakthroughs and paying homage to the rock stars of the bird‑researching world, and also clarifying some of the gravest misconceptions that have permeated the field. It is a mammoth task to summarize an entire branch of study, but
Birkhead does so with grace and clarity’.

Geoff Hill, Archives of Natural History, October 2013 Birkhead does a masterful job of using common features of the sensory biology of humans and birds to introduce topics while spending the majority of each chapter explaining the unique features of avian senses. I have spent a career teaching ornithology and studying the visual and auditory displays of birds. I try to keep up on research in sensory biology. Still, I learned a lot by reading Birkhead’s book. I certainly gained a much better grasp of the historical context of avian sensory biology, and for topics such as geomagnetism and echolocation, I was brought up to speed on the latest discoveries. Bird sense is a book that I highly recommend to the professional ornithologists as well as the
lay reader.