The Life of Birds by David Attenborough

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Tireless explorer of the natural world and wide-ranging traveler, documentary filmmaker and writer David Attenborough has delighted readers and viewers with such productions as Life on Earth and The Living Planet. In this companion to a 10-part PBS series of the same name, Attenborough examines the ways of bird species from prehistoric times to the present, writing, as he admits, from the viewpoint of an amateur with a particular interest in animal behavior. (Those who can distinguish a bird at sight or by song possess a skill, he writes, "which I greatly admire, but one, alas, that I do not possess.") That amateur passion yields a fine overview of avian biology, as Attenborough turns to such matters as the antiquity of birds, which have dominated the air for some 150 million years, and the adaptation of birds to every ecosystem on the planet--for no obstacle, from huge mountains to wide oceans, has been able to stop their colonizing the whole of the globe, including the artificial deserts of major cities, where pigeons and peregrines rule. Graced with 180 color photographs, Attenborough's book will delight birdwatchers, students of animal behavior, and admirers of good writing alike. --Gregory McNamee