Bird Love

Bird Love

The Family Life of Birds

Wenfei Tong, Mike Webster

$34.99

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Description

Exploring the sex life of birds and their wide range of mating and parenting habits, Bird Love gives you a detailed insight into bird family life.

Discover the amazing array of courtship techniques employed by birds around the world, such as ospreys bringing gifts of food in exchange for sex, male skylarks performing aerial acrobatics to impress females, or long-tailed widowbirds showing off their tails to advertise the quality of their genes.

Finding a prime nesting location is paramount, and the skills to build a safe nest in which to raise young can be just as attractive as having extravagant plumage. Security matters too - even to the extent of female hornbills who seal themselves in to their tree hollow nests, relying on their mates to deliver food through a narrow slit.

But it’s not all about males seeking to impress or dominate females: sex roles can be reversed, and the book includes examples such as the black coucal, whose females leave the males to perform all childcare duties. The limited availability of nest holes for the eclectus parrots of Melanesia means that females fight each other to secure a home, and the winner may have up to seven mates.

Varying levels of parental care are revealed, from both parents having to provide constant care to allowing an insurance chick to die to ensure at least one survives. And either sex can desert the nest in search of further matings to secure another clutch of chicks and the continuation of their family line.

Brood parasitism, where birds such as cuckoos and cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, takes absentee parenting to the extreme and the book explores how these species have evolved to delegate all parental care. Alongside, it also shows how host species have cleverly developed a wide range of tactics to defend their nests and their own families.

The essential insight to bird family life, Bird Love is richly illustrated with stunning colour photographs, and regular Backyard Bird boxes in each chapter showcase familiar species from around the world.


Author

Wenfei Tong:

Dr. Wenfei Tong is a research associate at the department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a faculty member at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She received a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton, and a PhD in biology from Harvard. Her postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge focused on the evolution and genetics of brood parasitic birds - a subject she returns to in this book. At the University of Montana, she has developed citizen science monitoring for threatened grassland birds. Wenfei writes popular science articles for nature nonprofit organizations and contributes to international science journals. She is a guest lecturer for Lindblad National Geographic Expeditions and runs a nature tour company based in Montana. She lives in Missoula, Montana, USA.

Dr. Mike Webster is the Robert G. Engel Professor of Ornithology in the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, and also Director of the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has studied the effects of ecological factors on bird breeding behaviour, the ways that sexual selection shapes courtship signals like plumage colour and song and the effects of those signals on the process of speciation. His research focuses primarily on Australian fairy-wrens, North American wood warblers and Neotropical blackbirds.




Dr. Wenfei Tong is a research associate at the department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a faculty member at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She received a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton, and a PhD in biology from Harvard. Her postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge focused on the evolution and genetics of brood parasitic birds - a subject she returns to in this book. At the University of Montana, she has developed citizen science monitoring for threatened grassland birds. Wenfei writes popular science articles for nature nonprofit organizations and contributes to international science journals. She is a guest lecturer for Lindblad National Geographic Expeditions and runs a nature tour company based in Montana. She lives in Missoula, Montana, USA.

Dr. Mike Webster is the Robert G. Engel Professor of Ornithology in the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, and also Director of the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has studied the effects of ecological factors on bird breeding behaviour, the ways that sexual selection shapes courtship signals like plumage colour and song and the effects of those signals on the process of speciation. His research focuses primarily on Australian fairy-wrens, North American wood warblers and Neotropical blackbirds.

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