Read an Excerpt
We cannot know the world of the hummingbird, a miracle of wings beating so quickly that our own poor eyes can barely see them, our rich minds scarcely able to imagine the up to twenty beats per second of the hovering gem's tiny heart. We cannot know the world of the eagle, the falcon, or the hawk, carried aloft on strong wings to soar on the air currents above us, their extraordinary vision scanning for the movement that betrays the vulnerable prey below. These raptors fall to earth at speeds we cannot fathom, striking their prey with a deadly grab and then heading aloft again. We cannot even know the world of the birds we see so often we don't really see them at all. We note them as occasional or persistent nuisances: the pigeons of the plaza, the starlings that swarm our trees, the nondescript little birds that are always hunting for food and hopping out of our way as we go about our lives.
But what about the birds we do know, or think we do: our pets?
We admire birds for their intelligence, their beauty, and their ability to fly, so we have clipped their wings, put them in cages to better see them, and, too often, ignored their intelligence. We have promised them trade-offs—food, training, and companionship—and for many, their long, healthy, and happy lives are a testament to the fact that the trade-offs are good ones. The best-loved birds form bonds so tight with their owners that they are strong, pure, and life-enhancing for both.
But what goes on in their 'bird brains'? We have barely started to know, much less help them thrive as the intelligent beings they are. Sometimes the best we can do for them is what we do for the wild ones: admire them, learn from them, and protect them.
Those of us whose hearts are in this book are unabashed bird lovers. Our pets and the birds of the wild are our lives and the work we have chosen—whether as avian experts, writers, or photographers—and we cannot imagine living without them or without being among them. We love birds, both the wild and the wild at heart.
We know we are not alone in our appreciation of all things avian.
Whether wild or tame, birds teach us, heal us, make us laugh, and break our hearts. Our lives are about helping others to appreciate wild birds and live better lives with the tame ones. The strength of the human-animal bond is why we wanted to do this book. We have cared for and about the birds around us all our adult lives, and loved them from the time we first drew breath.
The very best experts were tapped to provide expertise on all manner of avian topics for this book, but we wanted much more. We knew bird lovers had stories of love, loyalty, laughter, rescue, and courage, and we knew we wanted to share them, along with pictures that were each worth more than a thousand words. From thousands of submissions of stories and photographs, we have chosen the very best. The ones we loved, and the ones you'll love, too.
Celebrate the bird with us. Turn the page, and enjoy.
©2010. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Ultimate Bird Lover by Gina Spadafori, Marty Becker D.V.M., Mikkel Becker Shannon. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.