Book review The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

The Bird Way has the subtitle A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent and Think. I borrowed The Bird Way from the library. It was first published in 2020. The book I found was a newly published (2022) paperback edition from Corsair.

Photo of the book, The Bird Way

Jennifer Ackerman has produced a wonderfully informative book about birds from many areas of the world. She has travelled widely and met with researchers from several universities.

The information is not at all boring and there is some delightful wordplay in the narrative about many species of birds. Although I am unfamiliar with birds from other parts of the world apart from the UK, I was fascinated by the tales about all sorts of species.  With a great deal of detail in over 300 pages of fairly small print it took me longer than usual to read this book. It was well worth the effort.

The chapter on how birds play made me observe birds in a new way. Since reading it I have noticed a rook doing aerobatics for fun.

With 12 pages of further reading in even smaller print The Bird Way is an ideal text for students as well as for people with an interest in the natural world.

It is one of the best nature books I have read. No wonder it has won many prizes.


Paint chip terza rima

Linda Kruschke’s Paint chip poetry challenge this week is for a terza rima, which has the rhyming pattern ‘aba bcb cdc ded efe fgf, etc. The poem (or individual section, called a canto by Dante) usually ends with a single line or a couplet, rhyming with the previous tercet’s middle line. But it may also end with a tercet, it’s middle line rhyming with the opening tercet’s first and third lines, making the form circular.’ (Poetry dictionary)

Linda writes:

‘Your challenge for this prompt is to write a terza rima of at least three stanzas. In keeping with the theme of three, I would like you to use at least three of these paint chip words and phrases: blank canvas, lavender, whirlpool, seedling, happily ever after, golden, and cliff’s edge.
I would also like you to use one of them as the title of your poem without actually using it in the poem itself.
Since the terza rima form doesn’t specify line length, you could write in short, terse lines, or long ambling ones.’

Happily ever after?

Over the red sandstone cliff’s edge
Seabirds congregate in pairs
Raising their chicks on every ledge

No space for twigs, eggs of theirs
Sit on the guano-stained rock
Looks from parent birds are glares.

In the sea spawning fish stock
The larder for days ahead;
Famine could decimate the flock.

The rising sun does not shed
Its light on these birds’ young chicks –
But golden light going to bed.

As these birds’ future lives mix
Chances – death or survival,
So we should be helping to fix

Seedling hopes of revival,
Offering heartfelt prayers
For every new arrival

That eternal life will be theirs.

What I read in January 2020 (Part 2)

I am reviewing three books in this post. The first two are library books and the last two are nonfiction.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris is a stand-alone novel about the same family as Chocolat. I have read three of the set of four related books. I really enjoyed this one. The story is told in an ingenious way. There is much insight and wisdom into the protagonists, their motives and the people and events, which have formed their characters. The unfolding story did not leave any of them unchanged.

The Seafarers A journey among birds by Stephen Rutt has some similarities with Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness. Both authors found that birds improved their mental health.

All the birds in The Seafarers are ones, which spend most of their time at sea. Although I have lived within sight of the sea for longer than I care to say here, my knowledge of these birds is patchy. To read the book properly and learn more from it, I should have had a bird book within reach. I found the parts about places I have visited such as Northumberland more interesting than those about places I had to look up on maps. I did find it interesting to have a map of some of the Scottish isles handy to follow the route, which the author described. It was perhaps a case of it being easier to learn from a better informed knowledge base. There is a lot of interesting information in this book but my lack of knowledge made it difficult for me to read. Had I not had to return it within a reasonable length of time, I might have decided to do more reading alongside it. As it was I kept it for six weeks, reading three fiction books in parallel as light relief.

An Island Parish A Summer on Scilly by Nigel Farrell was a book I found in a second-hand book sale. I remember watching the television series about a Roman Catholic priest on a Scottish island and a vicar on the Falkland Islands. For some reason I had missed the programmes about the Scilly Isles. Nigel Farrell was the director of a series on Scilly. This nonfiction book is written in a way, which made me want to keep dipping into it and reading a bit more. It is mainly about people, the vicar arriving in a new post, islanders beginning new ventures, people on short-term postings and visitors. It was written over a decade ago, being published in paperback in 2008. There were a few times I’d have liked to read bits out to hubby. I didn’t because he intends to read it too. There was nothing in the text to indicate that the author had learned he was terminally ill during his time on Scilly. I discovered that while researching the links for this review.