Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From & How They Live” as Want to Read:
The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From & How They Live
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From & How They Live

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
• How are birds so good at flying and navigating?
• Why are birds so like mammals– and yet so very different?
• Did birds descend from dinosaurs, and if so, does that mean birds are dinosaurs?
• How do they court each other and fend off rivals?
• What' s being communicated in birdsong?
• Can we ever know how birds think?

In this fascinating exploration of the avian class, Colin
ebook, 0 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Crown (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bird, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Bird

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
B. Rule
Nov 15, 2012 B. Rule rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haven-t-finished
I didn't finish this book. The author gets points for being exhaustive, but... he loses points for being exhaustive. A lot of the book is just lists of things some birds do. And since birds are so diverse, those lists get LONG. And not necessarily organized by any particular principle. While I usually like this sort of infodump, I just couldn't get into it here. There needs to be some narrative structure or hook that keeps you awake. Sadly, I didn't find one before Izzzzzzzzzzz
Oct 25, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that took me longer to read than any other book of 2016. And I stuck to the read diligently. But I think it is only going to be appreciated by those with scientific classification onus and supreme interest and patient love of BIRDS. There are many species and this is no short cut to their placements, shapes, locales, and habits. Far, far more than most people would want to know, IMHO. And posed in bird study language prose, at that. MANY terms to learn if you are a novice. More th ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Sher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writer tries to do much in 400 plus pages besides just covering the natural history of birds. Tudge has chapters on the mind of the birds, bird conservation and the history of extinct species, and even a chapter on prehistoric birds and bird classification. I got lost in the detail in some of this book, but I have studied birds enough that I found much of his esoteric details on species I know --fascinating. Because Tudge is British, many birds of the UK are covered, and although he uses met ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, it took me ages to finish this book (18 months or so). The first half was a long trudge through a survey of every bird family. Exhaustive but lots of interesting things in there to keep me going.

The second half was a fascinating look at how different birds feed, breed, think, and behave.
Jun 11, 2017 Tutankhamun18 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! The first eight chapters I loved, his style is easy and conversational and yet he still provides a wealth of hard hitting science. The 9th chapter about the mind of birds asks some interesting questions but for a biology student these have already been made and discussed and so nothing was really added in this chapter. Particularly after reading the book by Nathan Emrery. But this is not a fault of the book...
Al Bità
Mar 18, 2009 Al Bità rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a rather wonderful summation of current knowledge regarding birds, beautifully written, with some rather lovely line drawings (for those of you expecting some nice colour photos bve warned: there are none...) and covering just about anything a lay person might want to know about the current state of knowledge regarding those amazing creatures we know as birds.

Admittedly, there is the occasional feeling that the book is providing one with too much information, but it appears to me that th
Sep 17, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A tour of what we know and what we are learning about birds. There is one chapter that surveys all of the birds of the world. It's a bit encylopedic and I skipped it. But the rest is engaging and packed full of detail, historical and otherwise.

One good example of these marvelous details, of the many that stuck with me, is his example of a cline -- a population, generally spread out geographically, that varies continuously from one end to the other with individuals successfully mating only with t
Jan 31, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with a biology or science interest.
Not a guide to birds, but an introduction and discussion of what birds are, including extensive glances back into the fossil record as well as assessments of current (often grim) bird habitats, populations, and prognoses.

Since the book deals with the fossil record, it also of necessity discusses the entire evolutionary development of bird phylogeny as currently understood. Tudge fearlessly leaps into the world of DNA phylogeny and highlights major portions of the current structure that likely wi
Jan 16, 2010 BRS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE BIRD is really packed with information, quite a bit more than you'd find in some of the Sibley books, but with the humor and commentary that you don't find in a standard ornithology textbook. I especially enjoyed the sections on bird evolution (it's so clearly explained). Also, the author doesn't hesitate to show what ornithologists don't know about birds, which is actually quite a lot. In some parts (the sections on eating and mating, for instance) I think there was some information overloa ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Sep 29, 2013 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biosphere
Colin Tudge is a remarkable writer in that he can remain both authoritative and filled with doubt in a sentence. Along with a bit of angular Anglo wit, this makes for a groovy page-turner about birds: their evolution, abundance, behavior, classification, and strangeness. Although one brave and huge chapter depicting the dramatis personae -- every avian order in the 2010 taxonomic system -- will bog you down as he tries to say something interesting about them all, the rest of the book is a deligh ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Leilani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nature, birds
An absolutely brilliant immersion in everything Bird, written in thoughtful prose with a wonderfully dry wit. The sections on evolution, eating, mating, and bird consciousness were fascinating, filled with lively anecdotes and clear descriptions of the science involved. The listing of all the bird families in the world did slow me down a bit, but even that chapter had interesting tidbits scattered all the way through.

The last two chapters, about our historical/cultural views of humanity's relat
Travis Mueller
Oct 16, 2016 Travis Mueller marked it as partly-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology, science
A random book that caught my interest at the library. It is well written and interesting, and I think I would like to read more of it, especially a section that examines all of the currently defined orders of birds and example species from each. And yet I've had this book checked out for several months now and it never quite catches my interest enough, or drags me into it so that I must read more. And consequently I don't read it and feel guilty about not doing so, and so I give up for now, mayb ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Troy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Tons of material in here, not easy to just sit down and read, easier to take it in a little bit at a time. As a comprehensive study of birds, this book is great. Thorough and detailed, Tudge looks at all aspects of this animal and presents it in a clear way. As a non-fiction book, it was a bit dull and boring at times, occasionally repetitive, and overall just far too long to appeal to the layperson.
Aug 19, 2012 Clarissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book full of entertaining facts about birds and how they live. Colin Tudge is quite funny at times, and birds do many interesting things. For example crows have been seen to make and use tools.

Konrad Lorenz once had a jackdaw who was fond of the maid. To show it's affection it would try to stuff caterpillars into her ear!
Catherine Thompson
This book has changed the way I look at birds. I've always liked birds, with the exceptions of gulls and pigeons, but now I can't even look at a herring gull the same way as I always have. Tudge delves into the lives of birds with humour and a keen eye. You'll learn things you didn't even know you didn't know!
Dec 12, 2010 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. Told with great love and affection for its subject, this is a story of the growth of scientific knowledge backed by the growth of the human heart and spirit.Through birds, Tudge helps us get a handle on all of life.
Jun 02, 2015 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. This book explores the different families of birds. It also goes into how birds developed from dinosaurs. The author also covers how birds are being reclassified because of recent studies using DNA. Very well done. I purchased the author's book on Trees because of reading this book.
May 17, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book calls for a slow reading and then a rereading. It's packed with wide-ranging detail that takes some time to start to sink in. All that detail conveys wonder and delight, though, in author's personal, personable style. One of the most wonderful chapters explores how birds might think.
Sep 05, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-nature
An excellent book. After an introduction to evolution and bird physiology and an overview of species, it gives information on mating, child rearing, migration, feeding and social structure. A nice mix, primarily of science, but with a bit of philosophy for good measure
Laith El-Moghrabi
Feb 24, 2012 Laith El-Moghrabi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice enjoyable read. Although I am a birdwatcher but there was a lot of info that was new to me. I would recommend to people who would like to know more about these amazing creatures.
It's a very good awareness book for birds and nature as a whole
Florence Millo
Apr 30, 2014 Florence Millo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book on birds, their ancestry, their feeding, migrating, & mating habits, and their future in the hands of mankind. I especially enjoyed his little personal asides and his sense of humor. Really good book.
Jun 16, 2012 Kathe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book, after several re-readings I truly appreciate the deep understanding of birds and their lives. Wow. Now to find more books by Colin Tudge. British, of course.

This book so complete, so detailed, I'll refer to it often.
A nice overview of the bird families, but much too spare--I would have liked more details. I enjoyed his tree book more, perhaps because I've read so many bird books already.
David R.
Jun 24, 2010 David R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly readable text in light of the high density of material. In spite of small flaws I would recommended book to bird enthusiasts at any level.
Cary Neeper
Sep 10, 2012 Cary Neeper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loving the chatty verbiage and detailed story of how information makes science an ongoing puzzle never fully solved, always open to question.
Aug 20, 2011 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm enjoying so far
Oct 17, 2012 Holly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
some gems in here for bird nerds like me. but really needed a better editor.
J. D.
Nov 25, 2009 J. D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinatng survey of current knowledge about birds. Tudge is an able ornithologist, a capable advocate for avains, and a fine, entertaining writer.
Elena Gaillard
Dec 27, 2013 Elena Gaillard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating and well-organized exploration of the history, lives, physiology and habits of birds. A terrific summation of current science and knowledge, with some nice observations.
Sep 04, 2014 Aharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
782 interesting facts about birds, plus 19,384 more.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Life of Birds
  • Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle
  • The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History
  • The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated History of Ornithology
  • Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds
  • The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior
  • The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong (with CD)
  • The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany
  • Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds
  • Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
  • Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song
  • Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
  • What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
  • Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions
  • Corvus: A Life with Birds
  • To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifetime Obsession
  • Why Elephants Have Big Ears: And Other Riddles from the Natural World
  • Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
Colin Tudge was educated at Dulwich College, 1954-61; and read zoology at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1962-65.

Since 1965 he has worked on journals such as World Medicine, New Scientist and Pan, the newspaper of the World Food Conference held in Rome, 1974.

Ever since then he has earned a living by spasmodic broadcasting and a lot of writing—mainly books these days, but with occasional articles. He has
More about Colin Tudge...

Share This Book