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Life with Birds; A Story of Mutual Exploitation

by Malcolm Smith

Life with Birds; A Story of Mutual Exploitation
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Description

Life with Birds uncovers the fascinating story of our exploitation of birds, and their exploitation of us. The author weaves an amazing web of inter-relationships, from the Parsi funeral in Mumbai where birds of prey eat the dead; to collecting eider down from nests in Iceland and standing on the once body-strewn battlefield of Agincourt where birds won the day for the English army.

From the earliest days of human existence we have exploited birds; for food, for their feathers, to satisfy our blood lust, to entertain us with their beauty, to inspire our art, our advertising, classical music, popular songs and much more. Cage birds are kept for their beauty and song but this book also investigates the repugnant illegal rare bird trade, and the organised crime it has spawned involving around 1.5 million birds a year and which threatens the survival of several exotic species.

Since time immemorial birds have exploited us too. Birds can use our homes to make theirs and can ruin farmers' crops in minutes. Some of the most impressive birds have set up home on high-rise buildings, exploiting the city slicker pigeons that live off discarded fast food and much else.

Life with Birds contains intriguing examples of the huge range of interactions between birds and people, from birds being used to smuggle drugs into a prison and across borders, to controversial practices such as bird sacrifice in religious ceremonies, and how some Kenyan tribesmen are guided by a bird to find a food they both value. If you have ever wondered about any of these interactions, Life with Birds will provide enlightenment as well as a hugely enjoyable read.

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