THE GENIUS OF BIRDS
Jennifer Ackerman Corsair, SB, £8.99
Getting inside the minds of birds is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Doing so in as readable a fashion as Jennifer Ackerman does here is even harder. She looks closely at all sorts of examples of avian intelligence – from Jays hiding acorns, through Swifts anticipating storms, to Blue Tits learning to peck through milk bottle tops to get at the cream. It's packed with fascinating facts, but what's most interesting is the way that she shows how birds' minds work quite differently to ours, and indeed how different species and families think in quite different ways. There's a very wide sweep to the content matter, too, ranging from the sort of birds that we all see in our gardens, to exotic and far-flung species such as the New Caledonia Crow, a bird which is rightly renowned for its ingenuity. It's the sort of book that will send you off looking up all sorts of further reading and background information, but it also makes you think and look harder at everyday species, and also to understand their behaviour that bit better.