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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Shortly after settling with her husband and two daughters in a rambling Edwardian house in Aberdeen, Scotland, the gift of several pairs of doves inspired UK novelist and nature writer Woolfson to convert her new coal shed into a dovecote. The doves were followed by housebirds: a cockatiel for their daughter, a flightless rosella parrot the pet store couldn't get rid of, and a succession of unfledged birds rescued by neighbors. Woolfson learned how to care for everything from infant birds to elderly parrots with dysfunctional backgrounds; the menagerie eventually includes a swearing starling, a young rook named Chicken, and Spikey the magpie. Describing how her birds communicate (nearly all the house birds talk), she reveals distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies; she also discusses birds in the wild and natural history, and her neurologist husband is particularly keen on bird brains. The highly intelligent Corvus genus, including crows, magpies, rooks and ravens, fascinate Woolfson the most, and she transmits their appeal with startling clarity. Additionally, Helen Macdonald's beautiful illustrations add resonance to each chapter's subject. A satisfying read from a masterful stylist, this will appeal to any fan of nature writing or personal essays.
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