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The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human (Anglais) Relié – 20 mars 2014

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Revue de presse

Praise for The Thing with Feathers

"Mr. Strycker has the ability to write about the worlds of man and fowl without simplifying either.... He thinks like a biologist but writes like a poet, and one of the small pleasures of The Thing With Feathers is watching him distill empirical research into lyrical imagery.... Part the palm fronds behind his sentences, and you can almost see the British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough standing there in a pith helmet, smiling with amused approval at Mr. Strycker's off-center sensibility." – Wall Street Journal

The Thing With Feathers turns a shrewd, comparative eye on a succession of bird families to explore what [Strycker] calls their ‘human’ characteristics…This is an engaging work which illuminates something profound about all life, including our own.” – The Economist

"Intelligence, altruism, self-awareness, love . . . Strycker is especially engaging describing his own fieldwork with penguins and albatrosses . . . As Strycker writes, 'By studying birds, we ultimately learn about ourselves.'"  – New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
"[A] fun and enlightening read. Strycker knows words as well as birds; he has the literary chops to make the results of very complex experiments accessible."  – Newsweek
"Strycker has a keen eye for what is most interesting about each species, and he presents each bird story with tight language, humor and even an occasional splash of self-consciousness . . . this is a lively and vibrant book. Bird journalism of the highest order. Bird journalism that crackles."  – The Washington Post

"One of the best bird books you’ll read this decade. Guaranteed." – BirdWatching  

"Beautifully written, filled with strange and lovely details, The Thing with Feathers is a delightful read from start to finish."  – The Boston Globe
"It is Strycker's ability to see and draw connections between bird behavior and humanity that make The Thing with Feathers difficult to put down. . . The Thing with Feathers encourages reflection on one's own assumptions about the perceived limitations of the animal kingdom."  – The Oregonian
"Strycker marshals original reporting and scientific studies to argue the simple yet radical notion that birds have something to teach us about our own humanity. Spend some time with this book."  – Audubon
"Birds intrigue humanity, and in this research round-up Noah Strycker reveals why - in marvels such as the equal-radius paths of flocking starlings and the decontamination chamber that is a vulture's stomach. As he notes, such findings can mirror human realities."  – Nature
"Noah Strycker all but lassos readers with his binocular strap to bring people nose to beak with the plumed creatures he knows so well. . . [an] edifying and entertaining book."  – Science News

"Lovely, provocative..." – Robert Krulwich, NPR

"Fascinating" – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The Things With Feathers will encourage you to take a closer look at the natural world around you, and perhaps learn more not only about what you see but who you are." – Seattle Times

“[Strycker] combines the latest in ornithological science with snippets of history and his own vast experience in the field to hatch a thoroughly entertaining examination of bird behavior… In Strycker’s absorbing survey, we find out how much fun it is simply to watch them.” – Booklist, STARRED

“[Strycker’s] prose is difficult to stop reading.” – Publishers Weekly

“A delightful book with broad appeal.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A dazzling variety of avian subjects, including connections between birds and humans.” – Library Journal

“There’s bird watching, then there is obsessing over why nearly 2,500 different species do the things they do. That’s Noah Strycker, and this lovely book is compelling to those that chart the different birds they see on walks, and the rest of us who just gaze longingly at them as they fly through the air.” – Flavorwire

“Noah Strycker explores the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book.” – Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and The First Frontier

"As the 'owner' of a dancing Green-cheeked Conure, as a life-long pigeon-lover, seabird researcher, and falcon enthusiast, I can tell you that not only is this book full of solid information—I expected that—but as a writer I am astonished at how loose and easy Noah Strycker has made the reading for us. This is an insightful and wonderfully companionable book. I can’t wait to read more from Strycker; meanwhile we have this gem."  – Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point.

“A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchies—a work of dazzling range, nimbly written.” – Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper

“I’ve read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Birds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject.” – Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat

Présentation de l'éditeur

An entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world—and deep connection with humanity.

Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

Noah Strycker is a birder and naturalist who has traveled the world in pursuit of his flighty subjects. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, he spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and reveals the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds.

Beautiful and wise, funny and insightful, The Thing with Feathers is a gripping and enlightening journey into the lives of birds.

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41 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Philosophy of Birds 20 mars 2014
Par takingadayoff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This could have been titled Birds and Philosophy. Author Noah Strycker illustrates interesting behavior in the bird world, and compares it with human behavior. Sometimes it's unexpected behavior, other times it's downright startling. As we learn more about what makes other creatures tick, it gets harder to pin down what makes us different, what makes us human.

The male bower bird, for instance, spends ten months a year building, decorating, and perfecting an nest-like area that only serves to impress potential mates. Once the female bower bird has been sufficiently impressed by the male's building and decorating accomplishments, they mate, then she flies off to build her own nest and raise her chicks on her own. The male continues to work on his bower, and may mate with a dozen female bower birds per season. Since there's no apparent practical value in the bower itself, one wonders, is it art?

Magpies can recognize themselves in a mirror, unlike other birds, and most mammals. Does this mean they have a sense of self, that they can recognize their reflections outside of themselves?

Nutcrackers have amazing memories, recalling hundreds of locations where they've stored seeds for the winter. Having eliminated smell, luck, and some kind of marking system as methods of finding the seeds, researchers are convinced the nutcrackers memorize where the seeds are much the same way we would, by relying on landmarks and other patterns to remember.

When birds and animals exhibit behavior that we typically think of as human, it's difficult not to anthropomorphize. Strycker keeps this to a minimum, but does occasionally make cutesy comments about the birds. And when it came to albatrosses, who mate for life, he was quite lyrical about romantic love. On the other hand, I learned quite a lot about birds. I recently watched a PBS Nature show about hummingbirds. It was a fabulously photographed hour of the tiny birds, but I learned more about them from one chapter in The Thing With Feathers than in that whole program.

Fascinating book on birds, and also about what it means to be human.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Riverhead Books for a review copy.)
31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
X-birding escapades, the wonders of birds, and what it all means 20 mars 2014
Par Suzanne - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Author Noah Strycker is not someone to sit back and enjoy birds from a distance. He’s trekked within a few feet of a mating albatross pair, grabbed hold of penguins to attach GPS tags, and as a teenager he brought home a roadside deer carcass in his trunk, which filled his car with such an overwhelming stench that even at 65 miles an hour he had to drive with his head hanging out the window, just so he could could get close up photos the of turkey vultures as they feasted on gore for a week in his backyard. As both a field scientist and bird enthusiast Strycker has lots of fascinating information and personal stories about birds for this book, as anyone who was anywhere near me while I was reading knows since it was impossible not to share (sorry family and friends).

Each chapter focuses on the wonders of a particular bird, including homing pigeons, mummerating starlings, fighting hummingbirds, self aware magpies, and architecturally gifted bowerbirds, but from there the discourse spreads out to include such topics as neuroscience, the definition of art, game theory, memory palaces, altruism, the fight or flight response, and what unique species qualities are left to humans (a diminishing list). There were just a few stories I found disturbing, like the one about his friend who hates non-native starlings so much he relishes shooting them with an air gun, clipping their wings, and feeding them disabled but alive to hawks (which Strycker reported as a field scientist neither condemning nor applauding), but those are the exception. Most of the book totally enthralled me with wonderful birds, vicarious birding adventures, and thoughtful commentary.

I read an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing. The opinions are mine.
22 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
To Imagine So 20 mars 2014
Par C.R. Hurst - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
When I first saw the title of Noah Strycker's book, The Thing with Feathers, I immediately thought of the Emily Dickinson poem, "Hope is the thing with feathers". Like Dickinson, Strycker, sees the study of birds as a way to understand ourselves--that their behavior can tell us much about human behavior. This parallel is what helps make The Thing with Feathers such an imaginative mix of personal observation, avian history, and hard science.

Take, for example, a flock, or murmuration, of starlings. Who has not witnessed the strange collective flight of these blackbirds and not asked: how can they do that? According to Strycker the answer lies in using stereoscopic triangulation (the same technology used for the "Hawkeye" instant replay in tennis) to study the patterns created by starling mass flight. One especially surprisingly result of this study concerns how the starlings are able to coordinate direction by remembering the movements of its nearest seven flock members. This trait, according to the author, may well be shared by humans. Earlier studies concerning human memory consistently show that we can only remember about seven items, a "cognitive limitation" that we seem to share with starlings.

It is these types of comparisons, coupled with its author's whimsical sense of humor (for instance, in his introduction, Strycker imagines what might happen if birds watched us!) that make the book so compelling and so original in its perspective. Does the behavior of birds indeed mirror our own? After reading The Things with Feathers, I imagine so.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Doesn't live up to its promise 7 mai 2014
Par Jill V. Svoboda - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I am really interested in birds and have read quite a few books about them, so a lot of the information in this book was old news. I had hoped that the various topics would be explored at greater length and in greater depth. I did enjoy the book but would have to rate it as just okay.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A remarkable collection of home-truths about birds and people 2 avril 2014
Par OregonReview - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I just finished reading Noah Strycker's new bird book "The Thing with Feathers." This is one of the best pieces of nature writing that I have read in years. It is a prize-winner.

I didn't know quite what to expect of a book that was advertised as being about the interesting behaviors of birds but also about what birds could teach us about being human. That idea made me nervous and I imagined miscellaneous swamps that the book might have strayed into.

I was wrong. I won't even try to describe how this concept is handled, I'll just say that it works not only well, but almost transparently, with an impression of effortless grace that most authors don't ever achieve. Loren Eiseley and Diane Ackerman come to mind (though Strycker is a much more cheerful writer). Some of the chapters are a little stronger than others, but the overall level is very high.

I know from my own work as a writer and editor that this impression of extraordinary smoothness and naturalness in transitions in a work filled ­- even stuffed - with technical detail takes a lot of effort to achieve, and even a writer whose tale-telling habits are as good as Noah's must have fiddled and adjusted quite a bit, but the effort paid off. The detail about bird behavior is almost universally fascinating yet unobtrusive. I learned many new things from the book (including new truths about my own nose (I'll let you find out for yourselves), but never once felt that I was stumbling over too many ornithological factlets.

In recent years I have been one of the principal proofreaders for Oregon State University Press and I have an eye for typos. ­ I saw exactly one in the whole book. The editing is excellent and it has good end notes and even a useful index, which some books these days don't bother with.

Those of you who enjoyed Noah's book on penguins will be familiar with his story-telling skills and eye for birdy detail, but "Feathers" is a vastly more mature work in its style. The sense of humor is still there and the story-telling is even better, but the author at the crusty old age of 28 is not the same writer as the just-out-of-college kid who wrote about penguins. The experience not only in the field but in living shows in every paragraph.

Alan Contreras
author of "Afield: Forty Years of Birding the American West"
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