Nov 2, 2014


the Art of Birds
by Janine Burke

This is a quiet little book, and not exactly what I expected. From the little information able to glean from the front and rear covers, I assumed the book would be about the skill birds put into building their nests (I was hoping for something rather like Secrets of the Nest). While it does cover that topic, the book also ranges into art and poetry. The author shares her love of birds, her fascination with their nest-building skills and beauty, their secrecy and devotion. She describes both her own experiences discovering and observing bird life, and those of other people, including the famed Attenborough. While I have long admired Attenborough, I never fantasized about meeting him on a safari trek like she did! Being an Australian native, Burke discusses many Autstralian birds and habitats, which was interesting to me, but other than that I did not learn much new about the birds. Then there's the human connection- how birds have inspired certain poets and how the poets felt an affinity to avian creatures.The poets and authors she mentioned were mostly familiar to me- Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, Hans Christian Anderson, Karen Blixen, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Mary Shelley- their connection to birds less so, their personal tragedies previously unknown (to me) and sad to read of. She also delves into the question of art- are bird nests purely utilitarian, or do they themselves have an appreciation of the beauty they create? this is particularly apt when you consider the bower bird.

All in all, the book is a pleasant jumble of thoughts, one that I enjoyed reading but do not really expect to revisit- after closing the covers last night, nothing much stands out to me now.

Rating: 3/5      182 pages, 2012


  1. Oh this sounds marvelous. Are there lots of photos by any chance? Seems like a book that would need photos or illustrations.

  2. Yes! There are quite a few photos of birds and their nests, with vivid detail.


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