Book Corner: Unseen City

The full title says it all:  Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails, and Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness. Author Nathaniel Johnson, assisted by his toddler daughter, shows us that their typical urban neighborhood is alive with the wonders of that “urban wilderness”. All we need to do is lift or (in the cases of ants and snails) lower our heads and look. For those focused solely on birds, Johnson explores “bird language”, and makes the acquaintance of crows and, yes, pigeons. It seems that we rarely hear or see these species; for instance, when…

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Book Corner: The Genius of Birds

You’ev heard the expressions: “bird brain”, “featherhead”. And what’s “turkey” if not a low-IQ loser? But Jennifer Ackerman begs to differ. Throughout her easy-reading but informative book, The Genius of Birds, she shows us how birds are smarter than we ever thought. From talking parrots to seed caching jays to puzzle-solving crows, we see example of birds that fit our own definition of smart. And we also learn how birds can be intelligent in their own terms. Yet in the end, Ackerman reminds us of how little we really know: “One has only to consider the extraordinary genius packed tightly…

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Visionary Women

The world knows Charles Darwin as a keen observer of the natural world and as a theorist. But Darwin was a remarkable expermenter also, as James Costa shows in this book.
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