Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As we learn more about the secrets of bird life, we are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, relationships, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.
The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatrosses, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.
Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, Noah Strycker spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and shares the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds. You’ve never read a book about birds like this one.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
I've read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I've been waiting for. Birds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject. -- Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat
A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchiesa work of dazzling range, nimbly written. --Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper
Noah Strycker explores …the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book, and you'll never look at the chickadee on your feeder the same way again. --Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and The First Frontier
Praise for The Thing with Feathers
"Mr. Strycker has the ability to write about the worlds of man and fowl without simplifying either.... He thinks like a biologist but writes like a poet, and one of the small pleasures of The Thing With Feathers is watching him distill empirical research into lyrical imagery.... Part the palm fronds behind his sentences, and you can almost see the British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough standing there in a pith helmet, smiling with amused approval at Mr. Strycker's off-center sensibility." – Wall Street Journal
“The Thing With Feathers turns a shrewd, comparative eye on a succession of bird families to explore what [Strycker] calls their ‘human’ characteristics…This is an engaging work which illuminates something profound about all life, including our own.” – The Economist
"Intelligence, altruism, self-awareness, love . . . Strycker is especially engaging describing his own fieldwork with penguins and albatrosses . . . As Strycker writes, 'By studying birds, we ultimately learn about ourselves.'" – New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
"[A] fun and enlightening read. Strycker knows words as well as birds; he has the literary chops to make the results of very complex experiments accessible." – Newsweek
"Strycker has a keen eye for what is most interesting about each species, and he presents each bird story with tight language, humor and even an occasional splash of self-consciousness . . . this is a lively and vibrant book. Bird journalism of the highest order. Bird journalism that crackles." – The Washington Post
"One of the best bird books you’ll read this decade. Guaranteed." – BirdWatching
"Beautifully written, filled with strange and lovely details, The Thing with Feathers is a delightful read from start to finish." – The Boston Globe
"It is Strycker's ability to see and draw connections between bird behavior and humanity that make The Thing with Feathers difficult to put down. . . The Thing with Feathers encourages reflection on one's own assumptions about the perceived limitations of the animal kingdom." – The Oregonian
"Strycker marshals original reporting and scientific studies to argue the simple yet radical notion that birds have something to teach us about our own humanity. Spend some time with this book." – Audubon
"Birds intrigue humanity, and in this research round-up Noah Strycker reveals why - in marvels such as the equal-radius paths of flocking starlings and the decontamination chamber that is a vulture's stomach. As he notes, such findings can mirror human realities." – Nature
"Noah Strycker all but lassos readers with his binocular strap to bring people nose to beak with the plumed creatures he knows so well. . . [an] edifying and entertaining book." – Science News
"Lovely, provocative..." – Robert Krulwich, NPR
"Fascinating" – Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“The Things With Feathers will encourage you to take a closer look at the natural world around you, and perhaps learn more not only about what you see but who you are." – Seattle Times
“[Strycker] combines the latest in ornithological science with snippets of history and his own vast experience in the field to hatch a thoroughly entertaining examination of bird behavior… In Strycker’s absorbing survey, we find out how much fun it is simply to watch them.” – Booklist, STARRED
“[Strycker’s] prose is difficult to stop reading.” – Publishers Weekly
“A delightful book with broad appeal.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A dazzling variety of avian subjects, including connections between birds and humans.” – Library Journal
“There’s bird watching, then there is obsessing over why nearly 2,500 different species do the things they do. That’s Noah Strycker, and this lovely book is compelling to those that chart the different birds they see on walks, and the rest of us who just gaze longingly at them as they fly through the air.” – Flavorwire
“Noah Strycker explores the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book.” – Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and The First Frontier
"As the 'owner' of a dancing Green-cheeked Conure, as a life-long pigeon-lover, seabird researcher, and falcon enthusiast, I can tell you that not only is this book full of solid information—I expected that—but as a writer I am astonished at how loose and easy Noah Strycker has made the reading for us. This is an insightful and wonderfully companionable book. I can’t wait to read more from Strycker; meanwhile we have this gem." – Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point.
“A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchies—a work of dazzling range, nimbly written.” – Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper
“I’ve read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Birds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject.” – Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received this book compliments of Riverhead Books, via Library Thing’s Early Reviewers book giveaway of an uncorrected Proof. I owe them many thanks for introducing me to a new author. I’ve gone back and read several reviews of Mr. Stryker’s new book and I don’t know that I could provide anything more than most these reviewers. I will say that I totally enjoyed his writing and will be looking for his first book Among Penguins, and perhaps even check out his work as associate editor of the American Birding Association’s flagship magazine, Birding. I tried to pick out my favorite stories but really, I enjoyed them all; from the Murmurration of Starling flocks right through to the “Wandering Hearts” of albatrosses. I even read the man’s end of book footnotes with fascination. It’s a wonderful read, and would be almost perfect while sitting outside with binoculars among the birds of your backyard. I think that there’s only one thing that could make this book perfect, and that would be as an interactive ebook, linking to the variety of subjects the author mentions, the Youtube videos, etc. Several times while reading, I pulled myself away to my tablet or desktop to look up the colorful bowers of the Great Bowerbirds of Australia, or the murmurration of the starlings, or the dancing parrots. But this quibble aside, I enjoyed the book thoroughly and will be rereading it soon, this time pencil in hand as I commit the Librarian’s worst nightmare – marking the book up with notes.
This is my new favorite book. I just picked it up from the library, intrigued by the Emily Dickinson title, and I am so glad I did. It is a wonderful, informative, humane book. That it was written by a 28 year-old amazes me. I plan to buy a copy for myself and a couple for gifts. I have always loved birds, but knew nothing about them. A whole new world has opened up for me! Highly recommended!!