Saturday, February 4, 2023

Review – Why Do Birds Do That?

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Serena Kirby, ARR.News
Serena Kirby, ARR.News
Serena Kirby is a freelance reporter, writer and photographer based in regional Western Australia. With a background in public relations, education and tourism she’s had 30 years experience writing and photographing for local, national and international publications. Her current focus is on sharing stories from the sticks; it’s people, places and products and the life that lies beyond the city limits. She enjoys living in a small town while raising a tall teenager.
Why Do Birds Do That?

The beauty of birds cannot be understated. Their colours, their behaviour and their musical calls have enthralled us since time immemorial. Had it not been for birds, man may have never dreamt of being able to fly!

But have you ever wondered how birds evolved or why they have so many clever and amazing attributes? Dr Grainne Cleary’s book, Why Do Birds Do That?, gives a fascinating and well researched insight into the bodies of birds, their habits and some of their quirky characteristics. You’ll find out why birds have three eyelids and why they bob when they walk.

Dr Cleary, who originally hails from Ireland, is certainly an expert in the field of birds. She’s a wildlife ecologist currently working as a research fellow at Melbourne’s Deakin University and a strong proponent of citizen science. She’s also a second-time author who presents information on wildlife on radio and TV. Her broadcasting experience means she knows how to present scientific information in an easy to read question and answer format that is supported by scientific research.

This book is filled with countless ‘aha’ moments. Think of a bird’s feathers as one example. I never knew they could rearrange their feathers to cater to the temperature conditions. They fluff them up if they want to cool down and can then pull them tight and flat to trap in warm air when the surrounding temperature drops.

And who knew that birds had facial expressions – not me that’s for sure. Researchers have discovered that birds can signal their mood or convey a message by moving their beaks and “positioning individual feathers above or below the beak…”. Some birds can even independently move specific feathers above or below their eye.

Then of course there are birds with crests – and cockatoos get a gold star for the way they use their head plumage to express their emotions. It was also fascinating to learn that the sulphur-crested cockatoo has a distinct preference for using their left foot to perform food and climbing tasks.

With more than 50 answers to a whole range of avian-themed questions, this is the type of book that will have you winning points at the next quiz night and provide you with loads of dinner party conversation starters. You will also gain a whole new appreciation for these fabulous feathered creatures.

Whether you are an avid bird watcher or simply a casual admirer I highly recommend adding this to your bookshelf for ready reference. Trust me, you’ll need it – as some people may not believe you when you tell them about some of the avian oddities described.

Author: Dr. Grainne Cleary
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781761067235
Pages: 288
Recommended Retail Price: $32.99
Buy through Booktopia



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