Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: "The Bird"

Colin Tudge's The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From, and How They Live (Crown, 2008) has to be one of the oddest books I've read in a while. It reminded me a bit some of Richard Fortey's stuff, with its mix of scientific jargon and witty, anecdotal banter. There were parts of it that got a bit dry, but on the whole it was an amusing survey of bird evolution, lifestyles, and taxonomy.

Mostly I enjoyed this book, although the sharp transitions from dry scientific exposition to breezy asides sort of threw me for a loop. This is, I suppose, one of the dangers in trying to write popular science books: you want the reader to feel like he's learning something, but not like he's reading a textbook. It's a delicate balance.

I found Tudge's final chapter, which serves as a sort of call to arms on conservation funding and efforts, the most compelling section of the book, and I'm sure for people who are looking for a (mostly) accessible introduction to ornithology this would probably serve quite nicely.

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