Read: The Genius of Birds

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If you are a bird nerd then Jennifer Ackerman's "The Genius of Birds," is a must have. Part personal history part textbook.
A must-have if you are a bird nerd.

If you are a bird nerd then Jennifer Ackerman’s “The Genius of Birds,” is a must have. This book is part personal history, part textbook, part reference book, and window into several of the most unique aspects of birds. It turns out that even though birds are the most studied species in history, we still have a lot to learn. I happen to be sitting in a backyard in New York looking at species I’ve seen a hundred times, but I still don’t know much about these little suckers especially when it comes to their private lives.

My notes.

It also turns out there are several parallels between the bird brain and human brains, so when someone disses you with “Hey, bird brain, get your sh%$ together,” don’t take it personally. Birds are social, sometimes cruel, focused creatures who love to get over on each other, navigate long distances and adapt at recording-breaking pace. (This still won’t save many of them.) All things I’m guessing you already know, but Ackerman travels to remote spots to work with researches conducting incredibly focused efforts. With climate change roaring full speed ahead, many of these feathered beauties have limited time, while many others are already vanished from our little planet. The next time you see a story about PFAS chemicals or watch as a mall parking lot replaces a section of wetland, well, think of the birds .

A bird book reading isn’t complete without addition tools.

Comments 6

  1. Guess you’ll get more comments on the X100 than the birds…. Do you want to become a “bird influencer”??

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  2. I was surprised to see that X100! I was thinking about film-making all day yesterday. A friend of mine is a highly regarded editor, specializing in documentaries. Legit award-winning documentaries. He started out as a film-maker, made indie stuff well before going to school for it. Then pivoted mainly to editing. I spent yesterday thinking about how cool a career that is. So when I say that I had some “I wish I had…” moments, it’s with the full awareness that it’s an art that goes well beyond knowing the ins and outs of Final Cut. Had to point that out because the interwebs are a rage machine. I know for me that the actual process of film editing is bewildering at the mechanics logistics level. And that’s probably the easy part. Anyways, I digress. I know that film-making is on and off for you. Wanting to do it, having to do it, being pulled by the first loves of stills and writing. But reading this made me realize that you could make some interesting birding films – as you’ve pointed out many times, there are tons of interesting people out there doing it. They’ve all got stories.

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      Yes, in short, I’m torn and doing mediocre work in all regards. I’m not a filmmaker. For me to even begin to add that title to my name would require some serious dedicated time and training. I’m a still guy and journal keeper who likes to tell strange stories. That’s it. But that’s okay with me. I’ll never extinguish the good story.

  3. Birds are indeed very interesting critters! I keep a small flock of seven budgies (3 males, 4 females) in an aviary (does that qualify me as a “bird nerd”?). I could spend hours on end just watching their social interaction. Their social intelligence is simply amazing! Each of my birds has a distinct personality, there are friendships but also aversions among them. Yet even though budgies have been kept as pet birds for at least 150 years, there are still books about them which contain factoids – for example, that they are monogamous and partnerships last for a lifetime. This is either wrong or my birds haven’t read this book – in my flock, it is not uncommon for a single male to mate with two different females on a single day! I’ve also seen an intense love affair suddenly break apart after 6 months.

    Yes, some of their behavior can seem cruel to humans. Some budgie owners have reported that they had to separate sick birds from the rest of the flock because those sick birds have been attacked by the others. Yet, in their natural habitat that makes sense – sick birds attract the attention from birds of prey, so you don’t want to be around them! Birds simply aren’t humans, so their behavior should not be judged by human criteria.

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      Yes, that mate for life thing is a romantic story that has been disproven again and again. With something like 80% of species. It SOUNDS good. I had two mice when I was six. One ate the other. Must get boring in that cage.

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