Jennifer Ackerman The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds, a radical investigation into the bird way of being, and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds — how they live and how they think.

There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” This is one scientist’s pithy distinction between mammal brains and bird brains: two ways to make a highly intelligent mind. But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries. What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They’re also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own–deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also, ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play.

Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of–well–birdness: A mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own. Young birds that devote themselves to feeding their siblings and others so competitive they’ll stab their nestmates to death. Birds that give gifts and birds that steal, birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves, birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call–and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter.

Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It’s what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.

Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science, nature, and human biology for almost three decades. Her most recent books include Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body; Ah-Choo: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold; Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity; and Notes from the Shore. A contributor to Scientific American, National Geographic, The New York Times, and many other publications, Ackerman is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Bunting Fellowship, and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.




 

Event date: 
Friday, May 22, 2020 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
38 S Snelling Ave
Next Chapter Booksellers
Saint Paul, MN 55105
The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735223011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - May 5th, 2020

The Genius of Birds Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780399563126
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 11th, 2017