Birds as Individuals

Birds as Individuals


Enter the secret lives of Britain's ordinary garden birds and the brilliant, unconventional woman who opened her doors to them.

In the late 1930s, Len Howard packed up her life in London, bought a plot of land in Sussex and built herself a little house there. This was to be Bird Cottage, a place where the doors of the house were open to the birds of the garden – great tits, blue tits, robins, blackbirds, willow warblers and many others. Len lived the rest of her life alongside her bird neighbours, with some sleeping in her bedroom and many flitting in and out all day long.

This is the book she wrote about the birds – a study not just of their behaviour but their individual personalities. We learn about their intelligence, emotional lives, and characters, their capacity for play and humour, the range of their song, their likes and dislikes, and their bond with Len.

Enchanting, life-enriching, revelatory and completely original, this is a gorgeous evocation of a life lived in intimate contact with nature and a book about birds unlike any other.

'A lovely book replete with knowledge and much beauty' Daily Mail


  • Miss Howard's book of bird observation is the most remarkable I have ever read

About the author

Len Howard

Len Howard (1894-1973) was a British naturalist and musician best known for her studies of birds, published as Birds as Individuals (1952) and Living with Birds (1956).

In her early life, Howard pursued a career in music in London, giving music lessons, organising concerts for the children of the poor and playing the viola professionally in an orchestra under Malcolm Sargent. In 1938, she purchased a plot of land outside the village of Ditchling, Sussex, and built the house she called Bird Cottage. There she developed an intimate and unusual relationship with the wild birds in the area, providing food (including her own war rations), chasing away predators, tending to damaged nests, and allowing the birds to fly and roost throughout her home. Her musical training gave her a unique insight into the diverse character of birdsong. Howard died at Bird Cottage in 1973.
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