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Publisher's Summary

What is it like to be a swift, flying at over one hundred kilometres an hour? Or a kiwi, plodding flightlessly among the humid undergrowth in the pitch dark of a New Zealand night? And what is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise?

Bird Sense addresses questions like these and many more, by describing the senses of birds that enable them to interpret their environment and to interact with each other. Our affinity for birds is often said to be the result of shared senses - vision and hearing - but how exactly do their senses compare with our own? And what about a bird's sense of taste, or smell, or touch, or the ability to detect the earth's magnetic field? Or the extraordinary ability of desert birds to detect rain hundreds of kilometres away - how do they do it?

Bird Sense is based on a conviction that we have consistently underestimated what goes on in a bird's head. Our understanding of bird behaviour is simultaneously informed and constrained by the way we watch and study them. By drawing attention to the way these frameworks both facilitate and inhibit discovery, Birkhead identifies ways we can escape from them to explore new horizons in bird behaviour.

There has never been a popular book about the senses of birds. No one has previously looked at how birds interpret the world or the way the behaviour of birds is shaped by all their senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of observation and a unique understanding of birds and their behaviour that is firmly grounded in science.

©2012 Tim Birkhead (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 11-14-17

Are You A Serious Birdwatcher?

If so, this is a book that should really be of interest to you. I have been watching birds for over 20 years. Recently, I started photographing them as well, which really adds to the fun. But after a significant time, I found that I was rarely seeing new birds to add to my life list, my state list, my backyard list, etc. So I have found myself wanting to know more about the birds I am seeing repeatedly. I want to know more about their behaviors and more about how these birds perceive the world.

Birds' senses and perception of their world is well-researched and covered in Bird Sense in a scientific and thorough manner by bird behaviorist and historian, Tim Birkhead. Robin Sachs does a great narration. The entire book was informative and very engaging. It should be very enjoyable and interesting for bird lovers with a scientific bent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating facts about birds

If you like learning cool facts about animal behavior, you'll love this book. Full of surprising information on how various species of bird perceive the world, and how that drives their behavior. Good narrator, kept my interest.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tyler C
  • Burbank, CA United States
  • 07-24-14

The science of the science of bird senses

This book not only tells you what the birds experience, but how we know what they experience. There are many interesting facts both about birds and the pioneers that discovered those facts and what experiments uncovered them. It's organized by sense, which I thought was helpful in visualizing bird life. If you like books that make the world around you more interesting, this is the book for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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If you did not love birds before you will!

What did you love best about Bird Sense?

Very well and entertainingly written and read. Informative but not dull in any way. Amazing and startling.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The writer, Professor Birkhead is very knowledgeable and writes in an easy to understand and flowing style that is a pleasure to just sit and listen, and listen...

Which character – as performed by Robin Sachs – was your favorite?

Not applicable. But Robin Sachs is a sensitive and pleasant reader.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Some of the early (two hundred years or more ago) experiments that were performed on some of the birds species made me cringe in shame for our callousness.

Any additional comments?

One of the best books I have listened to in a long time. I hope audible will bring to us more of Tim Birkhead's work, hopefully with the same reader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Must read for bird lovers

Any additional comments?

Very informative, although somewhat dry. I enjoyed it and thought it was very on point and in depth at the time I read it. If you have little interest in birds and/or animal anatomy and behavior, this book isn’t for you. However, for the science-minded animal lover, it comes highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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entertaining

not only did I learn quite a bit about birds, it was also laugh out loud funny. Good reader and good writer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • victoria
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 07-18-15

How science is so much FUN

I actually selected this book because I love Robin Sachs, and he did not disappoint here.

I am not an avid birder but I pay attention to what I see; like to recognize species, and am fascinated to understand the behavior of birds and other animals in the wild. But Birkhead takes the reader behind the scenes for a clear and intriguing look at how we know what we know and the ingenuity of the people who figured things out. The correspondence -- over the course of centuries -- among people studying birds gives a wonderful personal sense of the individuals and their quests.

Yes, this is definitely about the scientific process, but it's described clearly and eloquently. In the process, we get to see and understand the dazzling variety of birds' evolutionary solutions to living in the extremes of settings and environments.

I liked the listen so much I've ordered a hard copy to return to and to share with like-minded friends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A comprehensive answer

Any additional comments?

If you have ever wondered what it's like to be a bird this book is a must. Details like why a falcon's eyesight is so good (because the eyeball has two foviae as opposed to a human's one). And did you know that relative to body size, the size of bird's eyes are almost twice as large as those of most mammals? Even with a distaste for biology this book easily held my attention...sound localisation, taste, smell, magnetic sense, emotions, it's all there. And all very well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Diana
  • Antelope Valley, CA, United States
  • 07-07-14

Beautifully written and narrated science of birds

This book was more scientific than I expected, but surprisingly entertaining.

The author has a beautiful writing style and uses words artfully. A wry sense of humor dotted the scientific information but the keen observations of birds, surroundings, and even other scientists made this book very enjoyable.

The narrator's voice is wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JoBo
  • Worcester, MA, US
  • 06-24-14

Flights of Fancy

What made the experience of listening to Bird Sense the most enjoyable?

What incredibly complex and wonderful creatures are birds. The senses of birds are explored in a way that includes a chronology of our observations over the centuries combined with our present day scientific knowledge. The examples and explainations given in exploring the senses of birds are easy for scientists and nonscientists to understand.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are many "characters" in the form of the various species of birds that are equally fascinating in their actions and their adaptation to this planet.

Have you listened to any of Robin Sachs’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have no prior experience however Mr Sachs`s performance is as an accomplished story teller.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. There is too much information for me to absorb in one sitting. One or two chapters at a time is plenty to take in by this listener. I`ll probably reinforce what I learned in a second listening

Any additional comments?

Wonderful book! Makes me want to take a birding course!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Accidental Hero
  • 10-19-15

A comprehensive answer

Where does Bird Sense rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

If you have ever wondered what it's like to be a bird this book is a must. Details like why a falcon's eyesight is so good (because the eyeball has two foviae as opposed to a human's one). And did you know that relative to body size, the size of bird's eyes are almost twice as large as those of most mammals? Even with a distaste for biology this book easily held my attention...sound localisation, taste, smell, magnetic sense, emotions, it's all there. And all very well done and ranks among the best.