Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin

Tim Birkhead's The Wisdom of Birds, published in 2008, provided a thorough survey of what we know about birds, and how we came to know it. Now, in collaboration with Jo Wimpenny and Bob Montgomerie he provides a definitive history of ornithology through studies of the life and work of prominent ornithologists, from Darwin to the present day, enlivened throughout with images, archival material and interviews with living scientists. It's an extraordinary story, filled with a fascinating array of maverick geniuses and obsessive eccentrics, and in some ways a heroic one, and illustrates brilliantly how and why the study of birds has contributed so much to our knowledge of life on earth. Claire Spottiswoode wrote in the THES 'The book’s vast scope inevitably leaves the reader wanting more, which is of course the best way to be beguiled. After his distinguished career on the neurobiology of birdsong, essayist Fernando Nottebohm still feels much the same way: “If there is a God and God is a chaffinch, there will be hell to pay. But before then, I still have a few years to work on the origins of things.''