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Publisher's Summary

Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. In fact, according to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. Like humans, many birds have enormous brains relative to their size. Although small, bird brains are packed with neurons that allow them to punch well above their weight.

©2016 Jennifer Ackerman. (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Margaret] Strom sounds suitably amazed by it all, too--a fine match of material and voice." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    113
  • 4 Stars
    77
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    35
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    98
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    56
  • 3 Stars
    39
  • 2 Stars
    16
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    12

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
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    63
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    31
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

What a disappointment!

What disappointed you about The Genius of Birds?

While the stories told in this book are interesting, the way the book is structured serves to distract and even trivialize the points Ackerman is trying to make. But most of all: the narration is awful. The narrator reads as if she has never looked at the text before, pausing in the middle of sentences to turn pages, stumbling over Latin names. I couldn't bring myself to sit through the entire book. And I really wanted to like this book.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator could have practiced a bit before sitting down to record the book.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting Subject, Mispronunciations Detract

The subject matter is intriguing. Ackerman strikes a nice balance for the layperson, getting detailed-but-not-too-detailed, so the book moves along without feeling like a textbook.

The narrator was generally pleasant but made some errors, detracting from the flow. Some examples are "hypocampus" for "hippocampus" (later pronounced correctly) and "orthanology" for what I assume was meant to be "ornithology." I found myself periodically rewinding because my brain seized on the incorrect word and lost the thru-line of the thought.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Super interesting book, but narrator...

Where does The Genius of Birds rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Would be higher among my popsci audiobooks if not for the narration.

What did you like best about this story?

Very interesting case studies and experimental designs, and laid out by taxonomic groups. Very easy to follow.

What didn’t you like about Margaret Strom’s performance?

Mispronunciation of enough words to be severely annoying, and the general tone of someone reading to a kindergarten.

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

No; the narrator's mispronunciation of words was annoying enough to eventually become infuriating on longer listenings. I don't know who the director was, put please learn how to pronounce 'anthropocene'.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Stick with fiction, narrator!

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'd like to preface this by saying that I have a passion for birds, and I love reading books about them. This book, however, was ruined. It was actually painful to try to trudge through this book BECAUSE OF THE NARRATION. I finally had to give up and read the hard copy. The book is good, but is not written by an ornithologist, so it lacks some of the deep understanding and passion that an ornithologist would offer.

Would you be willing to try another book from Jennifer Ackerman? Why or why not?

Yes. The book was well researched and interesting (once I got rid of the narrator).

Would you be willing to try another one of Margaret Strom’s performances?

NO. If it were not for her broad middle-America accent, I would have thought that this narrator was unfamiliar with the English language. At the most generous, she is unfamiliar with many science terms. She loses fluency when there is the least bit of technical terminology and mispronounces so often that my groaning responses raised eyebrows of people next to me in the gym.When she said "orthony" instead of ornithology, I gave up, requested a refund, and read the hard copy.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration: how hard can it be to find a narrator who has a basic understanding of biology? Or at least a producer who recognizes when pronunciation was wrong. I am sure the production staff caught some mistakes, but there were SO MANY of them! Irritation/Anger: The most irritating part of the problem was the halting tempo of her speech; it was obvious she did not understand what she was reading.

Any additional comments?

Do not hire this narrator for non-fiction.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent writing; awful narration

The narrator struggles with pronouncing every name and scientific idea that is a little difficult. I found myself bracing for the pause that came before every name before she spit it out. Read well, this book would be 5 star. What a shame!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narrartor Ruined the Book

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I have never had a narrator ruin a book as this one did. It was like she was reading to a first grade class who would have disliked her reading as much as I did. It was so bad that I could not get into the book at all. This is the first time I have ever asked for a refund and I have listened to about 80 Audible Books. I still believe the content of the book is probably very good and I will order the book to read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

SO many mispronunciations!

I loved this book and found it absolutely fascinating. But when you're going to be tossing out a LOT of scientific terms and difficult names, you really have to do your homework. The narrator not only got a considerable amount of the words wrong (sometimes pronouncing the same word differently in later chapters) but would often pause before the trickier words. It was very distracting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I’ll never look at birds the same way again...

What a insightful look into our feathered friends. Just goes to show you there is always more to Mother Nature than we think.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Slightly naive.

Would you try another book from Jennifer Ackerman and/or Margaret Strom?

Probably not.

What didn’t you like about Margaret Strom’s performance?

Odd, inconsistent pace. She will heavily enunciate a particular word then pause (05:48 'asked', 13:49 'hole') apparently to further emphasize the word. Unfortunately she will follow these pauses with a more normal cadence, so if you speed up the playback the pace becomes pretty jerky.

Any additional comments?

The author takes a scientific tone but unfortunately betrays an emotional motivation. In admonishing the reader to consider the possibility that birds may be more intelligent than we has assumed the author does not hesitate to assert other animal's stupidity as a forgone conclusion. Furthermore the author makes several bizarre inferences about the 'humanness' of a left-to-right numerical orientation that flatly ignores over six hundred million people who speak right-to-left languages.
Together these oddities make for a emotionally biased praise for birds - which is unfortunate since birds are fully capable of shining just as they are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Marcy
  • Aptos, CA, United States
  • 02-22-18

Sorry this wasn't better

I was really looking forward to this book, but disappointed. The organization of the information seemed scattered and repetitive. That being said, I may purchase the physical book to refer to certain sections as the subject matter was fascinating. It just may be that a book with so many references and so much research doesn't lend itself well to oral presentation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful