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Books

Which came first — the bowerbird or the egg?

One’s a perfect genius and the other’s a perfect mystery, say Jennifer Ackerman and Tim Birkhead, in two enthralling new books on bird behaviour

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg Tim Birkhead

Bloomsbury, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781408851258

The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman

Corsair, pp.340, £14.99, ISBN: 9781472114358

What is it about birds? They are the wild creatures we see most often, their doings and calls a daily reassurance that humans are not isolated in our sentience. They descend from the first reptiles, while we come from the first mammals. Across a gulf of evolution we contemplate a parallel life which has evolved exhilaratingly different answers to the same questions that existence asks of us.

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The Most Perfect Thing’, £16.99 and ‘The Genius of Birds’, £14.99 are available from the Spectator Bookshop, Tel: 08430 600033. Horatio Clare’s latest book is Orison for a Curlew, about the disappearance of the slender-billed curlew.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.


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