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Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds
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Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Until recently, little was known about the lives of songbirds during their travels from autumn until spring. Now scientists have documented mass migrations over the Gulf of Mexico, identified the voices of migrants in the night sky, and showed how songbirds navigate using stars, polarized light, and magnetic fields. Miyoko Chu explores the intricacies underlying the ebb an ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Walker & Company (first published 2006)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  155 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-tech
This book does an excellent job of relating the wonder and mystery of songbird migration. Miyoko Chu is an ornithologist and staff science writer at the renowned Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, and her love of the subject pairs with her professional skill at explaining how we have come to know more about massive nocturnal bird migrations that occur every year, all around us, yet somehow nearly "out of sight" except to careful observers.

I learned about radar ornithology, bird banding studies,
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
This is a book for birders and birdwatchers...if you don't love birds the level of details and discussion of scientific studies may appear daunting and a tad boring. That said, if you have even a passing fancy with birds in your birdfeeders this book is filled with fascinating information on bird migration, why female birds generally like more brightly colored males better, how some birds can store food in their "crop" for a midnight snack, how birds navigate by the moon, stars, sun, and even ma ...more
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read about bird migration. This is truly one of the wonders of the world to me - that many of these fragile, tiny creatures perform amazing feats of navigation and pure physical stamina twice a year. It makes the human condition that much more humble. I think Living on the Wind by Weidensaul is a better overall book on the subject (and the one that originally sparked my fascination with migration), but Songbird Journeys is imminently practical. There are many lists of where you can ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This probably would have gotten four stars if I hadn't already the delightful Living on the Wind book on the same subject. There's some very cool bits in here (such as the description of migration over the Gulf of Mexico and the dramatic fallouts that can occur along the coast in spring), which makes it worth the read. In many ways it is more of a birdwatcher's guide to migratory birds, with a lot of space dedicated to lists and descriptions of locations to see the birds in each season. I wanted ...more
Seth D Michaels
Sep 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Really wanted to like this more than I did. It's very dry and technical, with lots of lists of specific birds that aren't super-meaningful to me, who doesn't know a thrush from a warbler, let alone the distinctions between different thrushes and warblers; the good stuff is kind of buried. It also feels a little bit like a series of essays, rather than the arching narrative it suggests. Still, I enjoyed it, but it's definitely only for people who are hardcore about birds. Would love to read a fea ...more
Susan Stans
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not too much jargon or biology in this book. I enjoyed hearing of the different migration, especially night migration and the distance birds go. I was not overwhelmed with details for individual species I got an introduction to a variety of birds. Which held my interest until the recourses and bibliography. A fine reference for trips and scheduling. Easy to read.
Colleen Mertens
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book details songbirds and their migratory journeys and patterns. It breaks down the topic by seasons and gave ways the reader could participate in bird watching projects & scientific research. It discusses how & why man needs to study birds and find ways to stop harming our world & environments.
Kelsey  May
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for bird-lovers!
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bird watchers, environmentalists, conservationists
Most annoying 4 star book I've read. What? Annoying? Fundamentally, this book suffers from an identity crisis and the absence of a sharp editing pen. But when you get past that, it contains some great nuggets.

So first, the good. The premise is appealing and the book delivers. What is the life cycle of migrating birds. In story and anecdote Chu covers the seasons by singling out specific species for which we do have some data and relating their experiences. Much of this is great information and n
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Wanted to give it more stars, but when I picked it up the second time, felt that it got too bogged down in the details with not enough focus on the bigger picture of bird migration. Doesn't mean it's a bad book just that she wrote a different book than the one I wanted to read.

It's obviously a richly researched book by a thoughtful, scientific mind.

However, her writing didn't draw me into a topic I desperately want to know more about. It is truly fascinating the amount we don't really know abou
Wes Baker
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birding
Chu provides a nice balance between the scientific information about the year-round journeys of migratory songbirds and helpful hints about when and where to look for them. The book is divided into the four seasons (with a breakdown in Winter between those who migrate to Central and South American and those who stay in North America), providing us with a view of where the birds are and what they are doing. She provides information on several researchers--amateur and professional--whose work with ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you have never thought about the ordeal of flying from South America to North America and back in one calendar year, only weighing a few grams, and having never made the trip before, this is a excellent way to get your mind around the topic of migration. Millions of birds do it every year.

Miyoko Chu's book is filled with the rich detail of scientific research. Just how a bobolink does what it does is miraculous. It would take me weeks to go from a meadow in Maine to an Argentinian marsh, and
Jul 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, zoology
North America songbirds migrate to South America, but not the opposite. Males are more colorful to attract predators away from the females and young. Bright plummage is a relative to the male's ability to find specific food sources. Bright the male - the better food hunter and the better to distract predators. MIgrating birds bulk up on fatty seeds to fly to SA. Birds have been shown to migrate to the same spots where mating has been successful - bypassing areas better suited. Young separated fr ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Chu describes the amazing amount of knowledge gained in recent years about migratory songbirds. She also makes clear that huge gaps in understanding still remain. What is known is a truly amazing story of how these creatures undertake incredible journeys. Sadly, humans are changing the world in ways that are making survival for migratory birds even more problematic. The book also describes the best hotspots to visit in spring and fall migration and ways that individual birders can participate in ...more
Wendy Feltham
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I read about half of this-- the first two seasons-- and enjoyed it. It's very well written, with interesting stories about birds and the people who watch them. I might finish it in time for fall migration.
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Excellent primer on neotropical migrants. But not only is it educational, it's a pleasure to read! It gathers together awe-inspiring experiences of researchers and observers, and puts them together as seasonal glimpses of birds that travel from the southern to the northern hemisphere.
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
This is a beautiful little book. The author presents a great deal of information concerning songbird migration in a very interesting, very readable manner.
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: birders
If you aren't interested in birding, you will not like this book. If, like me, you are, then you will find it fascinating.
Sandy Clark
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lovely book about songbird migrations. Many fascinating stories related to scientific discoveries.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book about migratory birds, as well as how humans came to understand their migrations. Fascinating.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
As much about the people who study songbird migration as about the birds themselves. I heard Chu read from this at the Newburyport Literary Festival and loved it.
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
I skimmed this one - more detail than I needed but interesting moments. I especially liked the chapter about winter birds, and the epilogue is a nice summary.
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
A clear explanation of current research on songbird migration.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it liked it
i am pretty much birding all the time
and found this fascinating.
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Extremely thorough book, and a must for anyone who loves birds. I learned so much, and it was very well written. Lots of good resources, and links included!
May 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birds, nonfiction
c. 2006
Ornithologist from Cornell. Very readable and interesting. Info on birding hot-spots and appendix on citizen science projects.
rated it liked it
Dec 04, 2018
Samuelle Simard-Provencal
rated it really liked it
May 19, 2018
rated it liked it
May 11, 2015
Candice Lauren
rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2019
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