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Archive for the ‘Noah Strycker’ Category

This was a charming book! I have read others in this genre–the natural history expert who writes entertainingly and well about his beloved topic, such as Stephen Jay Gould, David Attenborough–and the wonderful Gerald Durrell. Mr. Strycker is similarly entertaining and educational. Great stories!

The book is divided into chapters which each feature some aspect of a particular bird –the navigational skill of the pigeon, the wanderlust of the snowy owl, the memory of the nutcracker–leading us down interesting pathways, to discussions of the science involved and its relevance to ourselves.

And my oh my, these days we have YouTube at our fingertips! While reading of the alluring dance of the bower bird, a quick click will take you to a clip of the graceful performer himself–with his hypnotized lady friend watching, transfixed with the show!

And there is the dance of the albatrosses, whose devotion to their mates is astonishing, –years and years they travel, floating on the winds over the oceans, scarcely touching land—until the time when they come together–and dance! They only raise a chick every other year or so, mostly spending their time alone–flying thousands and thousands of miles. But when they do meet up, they truly seem to treasure each other.

And the penguins! And the magpies! And the hummingbirds! Hummingbirds, says the author, “live at the edge of physical possibility”. They burn energy so exhuberantly that they must feed constantly–their lives are short and frantically intense. Which reminded me of these lines, which might almost be the hummingbird’s anthem:

Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Such a blessing, these lovely creatures we share the world with.

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