Very factual book about the body features and behavior of birds, in particular how they came about because of evolutionary pressures. Each chapter is about one particular aspect: physical attributes (from beak shape to digestive tract), their very fine senses (including the ability to see ultraviolet light), all aspects of flight (feather structure, wing shape and so on), why and how birds migrate and how shifts are happening, how birds survive weather extremes including global warming, the complexities of bird communities- interactions between different species and the pressures they put on each other, and finally, the lasting impact that humans have had on bird life- both positive and negative. This book was one of those that delivers a lot of information at a very rapid clip, giving myriad examples in quick order without a lot of lingering over the details. I found it plenty interesting, felt like it was pretty seamless in motion from one topic to the next, but can readily see how other readers might find it a bit overwhelming. Learned many new interesting things, such as: that toucans use their large bills to dissipate heat, that many shorebirds have pressure sensors in their bills to find prey under the sand, there is an owl that deliberately puts a live snake in its nest as pest control, zebra finches move their eyes independently of each other, and finally- birds never have hearing loss from old age, because their hair cells that detect sound waves continually regrow. Also, I used to assume when I saw a perched bird with wings drooping, that it was injured or perhaps tired. Now I know it was probably drooping the wings because it was simply hot– its one of the methods birds have of cooling off. There’s much in here about how birds fit specifically into their environment, and how things that happen to that environment change them- or they disappear. But many are adapting, too, in hopeful ways that I hadn’t heard of before. A good read.
Borrowed from the public library.