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The Seabird's Cry

The Lives and Loves of the Planet's Great Ocean Voyagers

Adam Nicolson


The Seabird's Cry Download image

ISBN10: 1250181593
ISBN13: 9781250181596

Trade Paperback

416 Pages


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A global tragedy is unfolding. Even as we are coming to understand them, the number of seabirds on our planet is in freefall, dropping by nearly 70% in the last sixty years, a billion fewer now than there were in 1950. Of the ten birds in this book, seven are in decline, at least in part of their range. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of the seabird colony, rolling around the bays and headlands of high latitudes, will this century become little but a memory.

Seabirds have always entranced the human imagination and NYT best-selling author Adam Nicolson has been in love with them all his life: for their mastery of wind and ocean, their aerial beauty and the unmatched wildness of the coasts and islands where every summer they return to breed. The seabird’s cry comes from an elemental layer in the story of the world.

Over the last couple of decades, modern science has begun to understand their epic voyages, their astonishing abilities to navigate for tens of thousands of miles on featureless seas, their ability to smell their way towards fish and home. Only the poets in the past would have thought of seabirds as creatures riding the ripples and currents of the entire planet, but that is what the scientists are seeing now today.


Praise for The Seabird's Cry

“Threading together science and poetry with a sense of wonder, Adam Nicolson’s The Seabird’s Cry reminds us that these birds are always there at the edge of our existence: at once familiar and utterly mysterious . . . The elegance of the writing, and the very human curiosity and compassion for the seabirds themselves, is enthralling . . . A sustained and powerful cry for a greater understanding and empathy of their unique environments.”The Wall Street Journal

“Breathtaking . . . Nicolson’s mind is well stocked and acrobatic, and capable of vivid connections . . . He has an intuitive understanding of the birds that feels almost uncanny . . . His gift is to present this research in a way that is not just comprehensible but compelling, even moving, and to intercut it with dazzling description . . . His swithering between the forensic and the poetic creates a sense of wonder.”The Spectator

“With scientific rigor and a poet’s sense of wonder, Nicolson uncovers the lives of puffins and kittiwakes, fulmars and gulls, all the while investigating the impact of climate change on these seabirds.”The American Scholar

“Captivating . . . A celebration of these strange and marvelous beings and the forbidding places they call home.”The Christian Science Monitor

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


One day, on a steeply sloping grass shelf on the Shiant Isles in the Hebrides, two or three hundred feet above the surface of the Minch, the wide sleeve of sea between the mainland of Scotland and the Outer Isles, I was...

About the author

Adam Nicolson

A New York Times bestselling author, Adam Nicolson has won many major awards including the Somerset Maugham Award, the W. H. Heinemann Award, and the Ondaatje Prize. His books include Why Homer Matters and The Seabird's Cry. Mr. Nicolson lives in England with his wife and grown children.

James Nutt

Adam Nicolson

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