There are 10,500 species of bird worldwide and wherever they occur people marvel at their glorious colours and their beautiful songs. We also trap and consume birds of every kind.
Yet birds have not just been good to eat. Their feathers, which keep us warm or adorn our costumes, give birds unique mastery over the heavens. Throughout history their flight has inspired the human imagination so that birds are embedded in our religions, folklore, music and arts.
Vast in both scope and scale, Birds and People explores and celebrates this relationship and draws upon Mark Cocker’s 40 years of observing and thinking about birds. Part natural history and part cultural study, it describes and maps the entire spectrum of our engagements with birds, drawing in themes of history, literature, art, cuisine, language, lore, politics and the environment. In the end, this is a book as much about us as it is about birds.
Birds and People has been stunningly illustrated by one of Europe’s best wildlife photographers, David Tipling, who has travelled in 39 countries on seven continents to produce a breathtaking and unique collection of photographs. The book is as important for its visual riches as it is for its groundbreaking content.
Birds and People is also exceptional in that the author has solicited contributions from people worldwide. Personal anecdotes and stories have come from more than 650 individuals in 81 different countries. They range from university academics to Mongolian eagle hunters, and from Amerindian shamans to some of the most celebrated writers of our age. The sheer multitude of voices in this global chorus means that Birds and People is both a source book on why we cherish birds and a powerful testament to their importance for all humanity.
This is a uniquely beautiful and engrossing volume, absolutely drenched in knowledge and love - and more loaded with narrative than any wildlife book I’ve encountered before. It has literature, history, philosophy, folklore, travelogue, biography... Anyone who is interested in natural history will want a copy.
Birds and People is one of the great naturalist books of our time.
Full of intense pleasure.
A sumptuous encyclopedia of humanity’s relationship with birds.
Encyclopedic and spellbinding… The sparkling prose never flags, and it is marvelously illustrated by the photographs of David Tipling.