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Bird related books in the Reaktion Books Animal series.

Reaktion Books published the first book in the Animal series in 2003. To date (August 2017) 18 of the book in the series have been about birds. These are listed by publication date with the latest at the top of the page.

A summary of non-bird books in the series is provided at the bottom of the page.

 

Woodpecker

Gerard Gorman

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2017

184 pages, 112 colour illustrations

"Highly regarded woodpecker expert Gerard Gorman delves into the natural and cultural history of woodpeckers, presenting their natural, social and cultural history. He explores their origins and where they are found, and how they have fascinated humankind throughout history, from ancient Babylon, Greece and Rome, via the tribes of North America and the jungles of Amazonia and Borneo, to the modern cartoon rascal Woody Woodpecker. He describes how they feature in folk tales, myths and legends wherever they occur, and how their fluctuating relationship with humans has developed. Featuring many stunning photographs and illustrations from both nature and culture, Woodpecker will appeal to anyone who is interested in these extraordinary birds."

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Swallow

Angela Turner

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2015

208 pages, 66 colour illustrations, 34 other illustrations

"Known as heralds of spring and beautiful, elegant flyers, swallows are among the most beloved of familiar birds. Because they return with the spring, swallows have long been associated with the renewal of life, love, fidelity and fertility, while their ability to travel incredible distances has given them associations with freedom and speed. That freedom, however, hasnít kept them from becoming familiar figures in villages and towns. Unlike many animals, these birds have benefited from their close relationship with humans. They often appear to seek out our company; barn swallows have taken advantage of our buildings to make new nesting sites and purple martins use backyard nest boxes. However, as we encroach on their natural habitat, some swallow populations have dwindled to the point of extinction. Bringing together an intriguing mixture of biology, mythology and legend, Swallow is a cultural and natural history that will delight the many fans of these popular birds."

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Flamingo

Caitlin R Kight

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2015

176 pages, 86 colour illustrations, 10 other illustrations

"With its distinctive pink colouring and one-legged stance, the flamingo is possibly the most easily recognized bird in the world. But what most of us donít know is that there are actually six different species of flamingo, each differing in size and hue, and despite excellent fossil records, scientists have, until recently, had a difficult time positioning the flamingo within the avian genetic tree. Flamingo untangles the scientific research on this unusual bird and looks at its role in popular culture and the arts through the ages, from the croquet mallet in Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland to the flocks of pink plastic birds on lawns across the U.S. Flamingo introduces the history of the bird, its behaviour and habitats and discusses why it has become such an iconic animal. It reveals how the birds get their extraordinary colour, and details the significance they have had in world cultures, whether as a spiritual totem or a commercial symbol of the tropical life. Flamingo provides valuable insight into just what makes this flashy-feathered character so special."

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Eagle

Janine Rogers

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2015

192 pages, 61 colour illustrations, 33 other illustrations

"A symbol of power, divinity, war, justice, cruelty Ė for millennia the eagle has been one of the most important symbols in the human imagination. Exploring the rich history of this bird of prey and its portrayal in art, film, literature, and poetry, Eagle explains how this emblematic creature fulfils a diversity of roles in cultures around the world. We associate the eagle with light and learning, but we also connect it to death and corruption. Eagles adorn flags, crests and other emblems, but they have also been relentlessly persecuted as a predatory threat to livestock. Eagles have suffered from the effects of expansive human activities for many years, from habitat destruction to pesticide use and global warming. Saving eagles from destruction is critical for our ecological environments, for they control pest populations and dispose of carcasses. Saving them is also critical for our intellectual environments, as eagles are important parts of our psychological and cultural landscapes. Featuring many illustrations of eagles in the wild, in art and in popular culture, Eagle shines new light on our complex relationships with these birds, their international significance, and the dire implications of losing them to modern ecological threats."

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Albatross

Graham Barwell

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2013

224 pages, 60 colour illustrations, 40 other illustrations

"Albatross looks at the place of these iconic birds in a wide variety of human cultures, from early responses by north Atlantic mariners to modern encounters, examining in detail the role the bird plays in the lives of different peoples and societies. The albatross's remarkable ease in the air and its huge wingspan strikes all those who observe them, and the huge journeys they undertake across the oceans inspires awe. The bird has been celebrated through proverbs, folk stories, art, and ceremony. For many, the bird's cultural significance is still determined by Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. People have engaged with the bird over the last two centuries, from those who sought to exploit them to those who devoted their lives to them. Writers, artists and documentary makers have all focused on the albatross and its place in the human imagination has been demonstrated throughout history. Albatross concludes with a consideration of the bird's changing significance in the modern world, as well as threats to its continued existence and its prospects for the future."

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Ostrich

Edgar Williams

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2013

184 pages, 74 colour illustrations, 20 other illustrations

"Edgar Williams has provided a singular, comprehensive insight into this extraordinary, outlandish bird, chronicling its behaviour, history and habitat as well as its effect on our culture. Featuring many striking illustrations drawn from nature and culture, Ostrich will appeal to all those interested in birds and the natural world, as well as anyone who follows fashion, art or ancient history."

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Sparrow

Kim Todd

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2011

224 pages, 60 colour illustrations, 40 other illustrations

"In "Sparrow", award-winning science and natural history writer Kim Todd explores the complex history, biology and literary tradition of this bird that embodies the word 'common'. In literature, the New Testament claimed that not a sparrow falls without God noting it; the idea of the precious sparrow developed from Hamlet to twentieth-century gospel hymns; the bold, defiant sparrow appears in many folk and fairy tales. The author explores Old World sparrows, like the house sparrow, which can nest in a garage or in an airport, and New World sparrows, which often stake their claim to remote islands or meadows in the high Sierra. Todd looks at the nineteenth-century 'Sparrow War' in the USA - a battle over the sparrow's introduction - which set the stage for decades of discussions of invasive species. She examines the ways in which sparrows have taught us about evolution, and the recent decline of house sparrows in cities globally. This disappearance of a bird that seemed hardwired for success remains an ornithological mystery. With lush illustrations, ranging from early woodcuts and illustrated manuscripts to contemporary wildlife photography, this is the first book-length exploration of the natural and cultural history of this cheeky and ubiquitous bird."

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Vulture

Thorn Van Dooren

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2011

192 pages, 56 colour illustrations, 55 other illustrations

"Vulture offers a concise history and enlightening new view of this much misunderstood bird. Vultures vary in type and size, and while some have a diet consisting of bone, others have gone almost completely vegetarian. It is interesting that this infamous bird very rarely, if ever, kills for itself. Inside human communities, vultures have occupied predictable roles such as disposing of the dead and officiating over human sacrifices, but they have just as often been viewed as courageous and noble creatures, indispensable in the containment of waste and disease, world creators and divine mothers. Thom van Dooren explores these tangled natural and cultural histories: from some of the earliest known Neolithic sites in which vultures are thought to have consumed the dead, through to contemporary efforts to reintroduce the bearded vulture into the Alps. This book highlights the rich diversity of vultures and the many ways in which people have understood and lived with them. Vulture helps us to appreciate and value these incredible winged scavengers, and is perfect for anyone with an interest in animals or conservation."

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Chicken

Annie Potts

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2011

216 pages, 72 colour illustrations, 29 other illustrations

"In Chicken Annie Potts introduces us to the vivid and astonishing world of Gallus gallus. The book traces the evolution of jungle fowl and the domestication of chickens by humans. It describes the ways in which chickens experience the world, form families and friendships, communicate with each other, play, bond, and grieve. Chicken explores cultural practices like egg-rolling, the cockfight, alectromancy, wishbone-pulling and the chicken-swinging ritual of Kapparot; discovers depictions of chickenhood in ancient and modern art, literature and film; and also showcases bizarre supernatural chickens from around the world including the basilisk, kikimora and pollio maligno. Chicken concludes with a detailed analysis of the place of chickens in the world today, and a tribute to those who educate and advocate on behalf of these birds."

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Penguin

Stephen Martin

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2009

200 pages, 66 colour illustrations, 29 other illustrations

"Stephen Martin regales us here with the cultural and natural history of the penguin, revealing many fascinating and little-known facts about this beloved bird. More than twenty species of penguins can be found in the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, as well as in Antarctica, and range from the Little Bee Penguin at about 1 kg to the imposing Emperor Penguin, which can weigh in at more than 34 kgs. Martin details the biological facts and natural history of each species, including their evolution, habitats, diet and behaviour, but he also combs through cultural history to chronicle the role of penguins in popular culture and thought - from children's literature such as 'Mr Popper's Penguins' to Batman's nemesis The Penguin to films and television shows including 'Happy Feet' and 'Pingu'."

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Pigeon

Barbara Allen

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2009

240 pages, 70 colour illustrations, 30 other illustrations

"Pigeon is an exploration of the natural and cultural history of the pigeon, and the evolution of its relationship with humanity through the ages. Written out of love and fascination with a humble yet important bird, Pigeon relates its cultural significance, as well as its similarities and differences to its close counterpart, the dove. While the dove is seen as a symbol of love, peace, and goodwill, the pigeon is commonly perceived as filthy and ill-mannered, a 'rat with wings'. To say the least, the pigeon has a bad reputation, but Barbara Allen offers several examples of the bird's importance - from a source of food and fertilizer, and a bearer of messages during times of war; to a pollution monitor and an aid to Charles Darwin in his pivotal research on evolutionary theory. She goes on to connect pigeons and doves with writers and poets from Shakespeare, Dickens, and Browning, to Beatrix Potter, Proust and I. B. Singer, who she shows have all celebrated the birds' beauty and attributes. Readers will find in Pigeon an enticing exploration of the historical and contemporary bonds between humans and these two unique and closely-related birds, bonds which have been in existence since their domestication over 3,000 years ago. Allen intends to correct the many stereotypes about pigeons and doves with hopes that the rich history of the relationship and the acknowledgement of what is one of the oldest human-animal partnerships will be both admired and celebrated."

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Owl

Desmond Morris

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2009

216 pages, 91 colour illustrations, 32 other illustrations

"From ancient Babylon, to Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat and the grandiloquent, absent-minded Wol from Winnie the Pooh, to David Lynch's Twin Peaks, owls have woven themselves into the fabric of human culture from earliest times. Beautiful, silent, pitiless predators of the night, possessing contradictory qualities of good and evil, they are enigmatic creatures that dwell throughout the world yet barely make their presence known. In his fascinating new book Owl bestselling author and broadcaster Desmond Morris explores the natural and cultural history of one of nature's most popular creatures. Morris describes the evolution, the many species, and the wide spread of owls around the world - excluding Antarctica, owls are found on every land mass, ranging in size from 28 centimeters (the Least Pygmy Owl) to more than 70 centimeters tall (the Eurasian Eagle Owl). As a result of their wide distribution, owls also occur in the folk-tales, myths and legends of many native peoples, and Morris explores all these, as well as the many examples of owls in art, film, literature and popular culture."

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Swan

Peter Young

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2008

200 pages, 51 colour illustrations, 43 other illustrations

"Of more than 8,000 bird species, the swan is surely one of the most easily recognised. Airborne, the swan is a majestic sight: with its long, slender neck outstretched, it glides gracefully with slow, strong wing-beats. Its large webbed feet and short legs, which make it awkward on land, propel it serenely and effortlessly through water. "Swan" is a comprehensive natural and cultural history of this most dignified of birds. Peter Young relates the natural history of the swan: its elegant exterior concealing a lightweight frame; details of extinct species and the differences between the 8 surviving species; its power and endurance; its formation flying, which conserves energy and allows long-haul flights to be made at speed; its habitat and feeding habits. He also explores the extensive cultural history of the swan, from its frequent portrayal in painting, sculpture, porcelain and furniture; to its use in heraldry; the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan; and, Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling", and "Swan Lake". The book goes on to examine the uses and abuses of swans; questions of conservation; of the swan as food; and, its widespread use in logos and brand-names."

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Duck

Victoria De Rijke

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2008

192 pages, 74 colour illustrations, 50 other illustrations

"The squat, noisy duck occupies a prominent role in the human cultural imagination, as evidenced by everything from the rubber duck of childhood baths to the flying ducks on living room walls. With "Duck", Victoria de Rijke explores the universality of this quacking bird through the course of human culture and history. From the Eider duck to the Brazilian teal to the familiar mallard, duck species are richly diverse, and de Rijke offers a comprehensive overview of their evolutionary history. She explores the numerous roles that the duck plays in literature, art, and religion including the Hebrew belief that ducks represent immortality, and the Finnish myth that the universe was hatched from a duck's egg. This book also highlights the significant role humour has always played in human imaginings of duck life, such as the Topographia Hibernia, a twelfth-century tome contending that ducks originated as growths on tree trunks washed up on a beach. But we also learn about the bird's role in everyday life as well, from food dishes to jokes to beloved animated characters such as Daffy Duck and Donald Duck. "Duck" is an entertaining account of a bird whose distinctive silhouette is known the world over."

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Peacock

Christine E. Jackson

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2006

224 pages, 45 colour illustrations , 55 other illustrations

"The first record of a peacock in the Middle East, taken there from its homeland in the Indus Valley, was when King Solomon imported them c. 950 BC. The story of the peacock spread westwards and its impact on different countries is both surprising and fascinating. Peacocks became the subject of fairy stories, legends, fables, myths and superstitions. Images of peacocks have appeared in mosaics, frescoes, paintings from illuminated manuscripts through to modern graphics, and in the 19th century they represented opulence, luxury and vibrant beauty in the artefacts created by the Arts and Crafts, the Aesthetic and the Art Nouveau movements' craftsmen in glass, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery and other materials. The feathers of peacocks have been used in head-dresses, hats and helmets, to fletch arrows and to tie artificial flies for fishermen. This is the first book to bring together all the facets of the peacock including natural and social history, its role in religions and mythology in the east and west, and its place in the history of art and artefacts."

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Falcon

Helen Macdonald

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2006

224 pages, 25 colour illustrations , 75 other illustrations

"Falcon surveys the practical and symbolic uses of falcons in human culture in new and exciting ways; bridging science and cultural history, and packed with fascinating facts and many illustrations, the book offers thought-provoking and sophisticated cultural analysis in a lively, approachable style. Helen Macdonald describes the complete history of the bird, ranging across the globe and over many millennia, as well as incorporating the latest scientific discoveries. There are chapters on falcon natural history; myth and legend; falconry; conservation; falcons in the military, in urban settings and the corporate world. Along the way, the reader will discover how falcons were mobilized in secret military projects, their links with espionage, the Third Reich and the space programme, and how they've featured in erotic stories. The book explores their veneration as gods in Ancient Egypt, their role as cultural icons in the Middle East, and their recruitment by the advertising industry to promote all manner of products, from photocopiers to jet planes. Falcon combines in-depth practical, personal and scientific knowledge of falcons with a strong analytical perspective, on the place of these birds in human history."

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Parrot

Paul Carter

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2005

224 pages, 45 colour illustrations , 55 other illustrations

"Paul Carter's Parrot is a fascinating natural and cultural history of parrots. It covers three broad areas: 'Parrotics' - the historical, cultural and scientific classifications of parrots; 'Parroternalia' - the association of parrots with the different language, ages, tastes and dreams of society; and 'Parrotology' - the mimicry of parrots and what that can tell us about our own systems of communication. Highly illustrated, with images drawn from a wide range of cultures, historical periods and media, "Parrot" is a humorous roller-coaster ride through parrots in literature, jokes, folklore, mythology, film, TV, and children's stories worldwide, as well as discussing parrot conservation, talking bird experiments and parrot portraiture. This book differs from previous histories, which have treated parrots as subjects of curiosity and a pretext for elegy. A new kind of animal history, "Parrot" is philosophical and poetic. It takes seriously the critical and ironic mirror that parrots hold up to human society. Humorously written and wide-ranging in scope, "Parrot" will have wide appeal, and will be of interest to parrot enthusiasts and specialists, as well scholars of animals in culture."

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Crow

Boria Sax

Animal series

Reaktion Books

2003

184 pages, 27 colour illustrations , 68 other illustrations

"This book considers crows, ravens, magpies and their relatives in myth, literature and life. It ranges from the raven sent out by Noah to the corvid deities of the Eskimo, to Taoist legends, Victorian novels and recent films. It will be of interest to all people who have ever been intrigued, puzzled, annoyed or charmed by these wonderfully intelligent birds." (from text on rear cover of book)

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Other books in the Reaktion Books Animal series
Lizard, Boria Sax, 2017Buy from amazon.co.uk
Hippopotamus, Edgar Williams, 2017Buy from amazon.co.uk
Wild Boar, Dorothy Yamamoto, 2017Buy from amazon.co.uk
Llama, Helen Cowie, 2017Buy from amazon.co.uk
Scorpion, Louise M Pryke, 2016Buy from amazon.co.uk
Beetle, Adam Dodd, 2016Buy from amazon.co.uk
Moth, Matthew Gandy, 2016Buy from amazon.co.uk
Sheep, Philip Armstrong, 2016Buy from amazon.co.uk
Seal, Victoria Dickenson, 2016Buy from amazon.co.uk
Skunk, Alyce L Miller, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Bison, Desmond Morris, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Guinea Pig, Dorothy Yamamoto, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Beaver, Rachel Poliquin, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Goat, Joy Hinson, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Badger, Daniel Heath Justice, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Mouse, Georgie Carroll, 2015Buy from amazon.co.uk
Leopard, Desmond Morris, 2014Buy from amazon.co.uk
Walrus, John Miller & Louise Miller, 2014Buy from amazon.co.uk
Hedgehog, Hugh Warwick, 2014Buy from amazon.co.uk
Rabbit, Victoria Dickenson, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Deer, John Fletcher, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Dolphin, Alan Rauch, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Octopus, Richard Schweid, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Crocodile, Dan Wylie, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Monkey, Desmond Morris, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Gorilla, Ted Gott and Kathryn Weir, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Leech, Robert G.W. Kirk and Neil Pemberton, 2013Buy from amazon.co.uk
Frog, Charlotte Sleigh, 2012Buy from amazon.co.uk
Hyena, Mikita Brottman, 2012Buy from amazon.co.uk
Kangaroo, John Simons, 2012Buy from amazon.co.uk
Mosquito, Richard A. Jones, 2012Buy from amazon.co.uk
Donkey, Jill Bough, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Giraffe, Edgar Williams, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Lobster, Richard J. King, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Pig, Brett Mizelle, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Trout, James Owen, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Wolf, Garry Marvin, 2011Buy from amazon.co.uk
Camel, Robert Irwin, 2010Buy from amazon.co.uk
Hare, Simon Carnell, 2010Buy from amazon.co.uk
Lion, Deirdre Jackson, 2010Buy from amazon.co.uk
Otter, Daniel Allen, 2010Buy from amazon.co.uk
Spider, Katarzyna Michalska/Sergiusz Michalski, 2010Buy from amazon.co.uk
Ape, John Sorenson, 2009Buy from amazon.co.uk
Eel, Richard Schweid, 2009Buy from amazon.co.uk
Snail, Peter Williams, 2009Buy from amazon.co.uk
Elephant, Dan Wylie, 2008Buy from amazon.co.uk
Horse, Elaine Walker, 2008Buy from amazon.co.uk
Moose, Kevin Jackson, 2008Buy from amazon.co.uk
Rhinoceros, Kelly Enright, 2008Buy from amazon.co.uk
Cow, Hannah Velten, 2007Buy from amazon.co.uk
Shark, Dean Crawford, 2007Buy from amazon.co.uk
Cat, Kay Rogers, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Fly, Steven Connor, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Fox, Martin Wallen, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Salmon, Peter Coates, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Tiger, Susie Green, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Whale, Joe Roman, 2006Buy from amazon.co.uk
Bear, Robert E. Bieder, 2005Buy from amazon.co.uk
Bee, Claire Preston, 2005Buy from amazon.co.uk
Rat, Jonathan Burt, 2005Buy from amazon.co.uk
Snake, Drake Stutesman, 2005Buy from amazon.co.uk
Dog, Susan McHugh, 2004Buy from amazon.co.uk
Oyster, Rebecca Stott, 2004Buy from amazon.co.uk
Ant, Charlotte Sleigh, 2003Buy from amazon.co.uk
Cockroach, Marion Copeland, 2003Buy from amazon.co.uk
Tortoise, Peter Young, 2003Buy from amazon.co.uk



Last updated August 2017