The Wisdom of Birds An Illustrated History of Ornithology

Tim Birkhead

Walker Books




448 Pages



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The Wisdom of Birds is a gorgeously rendered and comprehensive history of ornithology, from folklore to facts. Leading ornithologist Tim Birkhead takes readers on a journey through the wonderful world of birds: conception and egg, territory and song, breeding and migration. In the process, he reveals how birders have overcome centuries-old superstitions and untested truths to achieve a firmer understanding of birds. He also recounts when and how this knowledge was first acquired, detailing the various myths and misconceptions that were believed to be true throughout the ages and when they were finally corrected.

Conceived for a general audience, and illustrated throughout with more than one hundred exquisitely beautiful illustrations, many of them rarely if ever seen before, The Wisdom of Birds is a book full of stories, knowledge, and unexpected revelations. Engaging and accessible, it is an illustrated history of birds—and all they have taught us.


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  • Tim Birkhead

  • Tim Birkhead is a professor at the University of Sheffield, where he teaches animal behavior and the history of science. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and his research has taken him all over the world in the quest to understand the lives of birds. He has written for the Independent, New Scientist, and BBC Wildlife. He is the author of Promiscuity, Great Auk Islands, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Birds, which won the McColvin medal, and The Red Canary, which won the Consul Cremer Prize.