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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I've never found anywhere else is in this book!, Aug. 6 2003
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
LOVE IT! This book is not merely a supplement to the phenomenally interesting and educational TV series (available on DVD or VHS and worth every penny and then some), it stands on its own. EVERYTHING a bird lover, casual or professional, might ever have wondered about when observing these graceful creatures is in this book: how birds evolved; how they adapted and often specialized depending on their habitat of choice; evolution of color and "male fashion"; mating rituals; and breeding details. The reader learns not only HOW birds do certain things, but also WHY they do them. The How is fascinating: how birds sing, how an egg is formed, etc.; but the WHY is just as interesting and often mind-boggling, i.e., why birds sing at dawn... You can't get such detailed information anywhere else that I know of. (Bird identification guides do not cover these topics because that's not their purpose.) Sir David Attenborough has a style all his own, and his voice jumps off every single page. I didn't merely READ this book, I ABSORBED it! Although scientific in nature, this book is so entertainingly written that the reader hardly notices how much knowledge is conveyed upon him. I am a devoted fan of Sir David Attenborough and am presently reading some of his earlier books which are just as beautifully written and presented. I also just received his latest books (Blue Planet and Life Of Mammals) and am eagerly looking forward to reading them as well!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Feathered Friends, July 4 2003
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
Sir David Attenborough, veteran of many major book/television series combinations, has knocked them for six again with 'The Life of Birds'. This book is the perfect companion for learning more while watching the series, and yet stands alone admirably for those who haven't seen the series.
Sir David examines all aspects of the diversity of the community of birds. He begins with a discussion of what is considered the prime difference between birds and other animals -- flight. He starts by examining the archaeological record, and then proceeds to examine reasons why flight might have come to be developed in the first place. One of the early fossils of flying animals is the Archaeopteryx, which Sir David states 'could not have been the first backboned animal to have taken to the air. Its feathers have such a complex structure that they must be the product of a long evolutionary process...'
Of course, flight is not a requirement of birds. 'Giant flightless birds, however, do still stalk the earth,' says Sir David, who then proceeds to examine flightless birds and the reasons why they abandoned flight. 'Flying is very expensive in terms of energy and birds do not travel by air if it is safe for them to do so by land.'
Sir David examines the life cycles of several species of bird, from egg to death, which includes the feeding habits, the mating habits, and the limits of endurance. Here you will learn the different nesting and parenting problems. 'Most birds of prey lay more eggs than they can raise, feed the eldest preferentially and allow it to harry its younger sibling so unrelentingly that it dies. The winner will then usually eat the loser, so the nutriment invested by the parents in the extra egg and the food they have given to the nestling it produced, is not wasted. The macaroni penguin has a strange variant of this practice. It also lays two eggs, but the first is smaller than the second, hatches later and seldom survives.'
You will learn about different feeding patterns, including those birds which nose-dive into water to catch their dinner. 'Entering the water in order to find food clearly presents greater problems than making brief dips with the beak. Because birds are warm-blooded, they run the risk of getting seriously chilled.'
The European dipper relies upon oils and air pockets between feathers to keep itself warm during such dips. Of course, many birds live on or in the water. This points out the diversity apparent in birds. Obviously penguins, ducks, geese, etc. have no problems in the water, even very cold water.
Mating habits include such things as bright plumage, interesting movements and feather patterns that change, songs and signals, and even intricate dance/flight patterns. For instance, the blue-footed booby of Galapagos tends to display and dance to attract a mate (very human of it, in fact!). Some mate more easily than others -- 'The male European wren expects to provide her with a nest and a male may build up to a dozen nests in different sites before he produces one that convinces a female that he will be an adequate partner.' The photographs in this section of the book are very interesting, many are humourous and some even romantic.
The limits of endurance show that birds have adapted themselves to every climate on earth. Emperor penguins have no trouble with the antarctic cold. The sandgrouse has adapted itself to desert climates. And of course, several birds have adapted themselves to the environments of humanity, thriving on the food production methods and refuse of our society.
A fascinating tale, a great life to be read. 'The Life of Birds' is essential to any armchair birdwatcher, and anyone interested in nature, and will be enjoyed by many more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Jan. 14 2002
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
Great book by a master. Expertly written and there are facts in there that I can barely wrap my mind around (like the fact that the world's smallest bird, a hummingbird, can flap its wings at 200 times a second!). One thing that struck me as curious, however, is that, in the section entitled "The Demands of the Egg," Sir David explains why all birds lay eggs, saying that having live young gestate within the female would be an impediment to flight. But he doesn't go into why flightless birds to lay eggs. Probably because it's convenient and there hasn't been enough time for evolution for them to evolve away from the habit. Also, flightless birds only have two legs for locomotion and might have a hard time with live young squirming around inside (just a guess). I'm sure any interested reader would be able to come out with their own hypotheses; it's just curious that it's not expounded upon at all. But it's a very minor flaw, if it can be called a flaw at all. I think this book will make a bird lover out of anyone. Also check out the VHS of the BBC series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just call him Sir David Attenbird, May 24 2001
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
David Attenborough has surpassed himself with this book. Previously best know for THE LIVING PLANET, here with the LIFE OF BIRDS he shows where his real interests lie - they fly. Written in a clear, easy, straightforward prose, Attenborough takes us around the world, using species from various locations to illustrate the books different themes. In discussing flightlessness we are introduced to some of the strangest birds alive today; one of the best known examples being New Zealand's Kiwi. Matching the Kiwi in flightlessness, and in possessing a sublime name, are the Kakapo, Weka and Takahe. When the book discusses plumage and courtship we are taken to the proper place: New Guinea - to look at birds-of-paradise and bowerbirds.
LIFE OF BIRDS is heavily illustrated with full color photographs; at least one per page. The book covers a wide variety of topics such as nesting, parenting, fishing, hunting, and endurance. Attenborough discusses the interesting, and sometimes contentious issues in ornithology, namely: the origins of birds, the evolution of flight, migratory behavior, and bird extinctions. He does this in a very balanced manner, mentioning all the various theories.
A good introduction to bird behavior and a perfect gift for a bird lover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a Lot of Reviews Already; Let's Keep it Brief., Dec 18 2003
By 
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
I have recently reviewed The Life of Mammals, also by David Attenborough, and I liked that book so much I had to go out and find this book, in which the author tells us about birds.
I have always thought that David Attenborough was most fascinated by birds, judging from this item and his television series. As usual, his enthusiasm comes across as honest, concise, and illuminating (no slogging through dry texts here; this is fun).
Beautiful color photographs are not only a nice bonus here, but are detailed and large (certainly there has gone as much care into them as the rest of the book). The Life of Birds is structured in 10 chapters that each in turn handles a separate item (example: The Demands of the Egg is about, well, eggs). But the whole spectrum of bird-life is treated here: feeding, all kinds of behavior, etc., etc..
Good reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable book for any bird lover, Dec 29 1998
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
As someone who has had a lifelong fascination with birds, I bought this book more for the photographs than anything else. After all, I knew everything about them already, right? Well, boy, was I put in my place! I learned things about these enigmatic creatures that I never would have imagined. One of the reasons this book is so enjoyable is the fact that Mr. Attenborough makes his own awe at the sheer wonder that birds are readily apparent, rather than speaking from the lofty heights of so many of his contemporaries. It's almost as if he is sharing his journey with the reader, and the two are making these discoveries together. And the hundreds of color photographs are incomparable, almost heartbreaking in their beauty. To make a long story short: if you love birds, then you MUST have this book. Period. Thanks, Mr. Attenborough!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Takes my breath away., Nov. 8 2001
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
It's hard to criticise anyone who manages to convey as much enthusiasm for his subject as Sir David Attenborogh. I have seen him as almost a fixture on BBC TV in England for forty or more years. He is the voice of so many nature programmes, and to each he brings his insatiable curiosity and his desire to inform the viewer.
This book, so rich in both photographs and text, is outstanding. It's interesting, readable, amusing, detailed and just plain well-written. It's one of those books I pull out of my bookcase occasionally, just to read a chapter or two, or to look at the stunningly good photographs.
Worth every penny of it's purchase cost. Well done to the BBC for making this TV series. And a special well done to Attenborough for writing such a hugely enjoyable book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding!, Nov. 8 2001
By 
ch0pper "ch0pper" (SOUTHAMPTON, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
It's hard to criticise anyone who manages to convey as much enthusiasm for his subject as Sir David Attenborogh. I have seen him as almost a fixture on BBC TV in England for forty or more years. He is the voice of so many nature programmes, and to each he brings his insatiable curiosity and his desire to inform the viewer.
This book, so rich in both photographs and text, is outstanding. It's interesting, readable, amusing, detailed and just plain well-written. It's one of those books I pull out of my bookcase occasionally, just to read a chapter or two, or to look at the stunningly good photographs.
Worth every penny of it's purchase cost. Well done to the BBC for making this TV series
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is another fascinating read from David Attenborough., March 7 1999
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
The Life of Birds is another fascinating read from David Attenborough. I chose this book solely because he wrote it, not because I was looking for a book about birds. When I came across the book I knew it would be beautifully written and extremely interesting:and it is. Anyone who read and savored The Living Planet will find The Life of Birds to be equally fascinating. The photographs are of the highest caliber. This book can be read and re-read and it will always be interesting. It is a wonderful book to share with children as well. Young one's can benefit from looking at the pictures and having an adult simplify the text. This book is an excellent addition to the home library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the Best Bird Read EVER!, Dec 1 2002
Ce commentaire est de: The Life of Birds (Hardcover)
The organization of topics and flow from one to the other make this the only book about birds I have read from cover to cover. David Attenborough's distinctive prose is as much a pleasure to read as it is to listen to in his documentaries. The information offered is fascinating and, from what I gather, new at the time of publication to even the scientific world. As an aviculture hobbyist and lifelong bird lover The Life of Birds is the cherry on the cake of my book collection. If my house were on fire or I had to spend a year on a desert island and I could only keep one book it would be David Attenborough's The Life of Birds.
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The Life of Birds
The Life of Birds by David Attenborough (Hardcover - Oct. 18 1998)
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