Richard Mabey

Birds Britannica
  • Birds Britannica

  • The British love their birds, which are inextricably entwined with every aspect of their island life. British customs, more than 1,000 years of English literature, the very fabric of society, even the landscape itself, have all been enhanced by the presence of birds. Highly acclaimed on first publication, this superb book pays tribute to the remarkable relationship forged between a nation and its most treasured national heritage.

    Birds Britannica is a unique publication of immense importance. Neither an identification guide nor a behavioural study (although both these subjects enter its field), it concentrates on our social history and on the cultural links between humans and birds.

    What makes Birds Britannica of special significance is the inclusion of observations and experiences from more than 1,000 naturalists and bird lovers. These contributions from the public touch on avian ecology; the lore and language of birds; their myths, the art and literature they have inspired; birds as food; and the crucial role they play in our sense of place and the changing seasons.

    Birds Britannica took eight years to research and was assembled by a team that included some of the finest writers and image-makers of British wildlife. On one level, it is a remarkable collection of humorous stories, field observations and tales of joy, wonder and occasional woe; on another, it is a nationwide chronicle. Scholarly and wide-ranging, a mix of the traditional and the contemporary, Birds Britannica is a comprehensive record of birdlife in the early years of the twenty-first century. No other book has dealt so completely with the rich connections between birds and humans; Birds Britannica captures the very essence of that relationship, and explores why birds matter and why we care.

Among Richard Mabey's acclaimed publications are Food for Free (his first book and never out of print), Gilbert White (Whitbread Biography of the Year) and the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize. He collaborated on Birds Britannica (which was his idea) and Nature Cure, described as 'A brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir', had such wide appeal that it was shortlisted for no fewer than four prestigious prizes: the Whitbread Biography, the J.R. Ackerley for autobiography, Mind (for its investigation into depression) and the Ondaatje Prize for the evocation of the spirit of place. Richard Mabey was born and brought up among the beech woods of the Chilterns, and now lives in Norfolk.