Books

Top 5 books about birds, chosen by Jasmine Donahaye

The professor in English literature, author and poet selects five books that help readers to identify, appreciate and protect our birdlife

Illustration of birds in a tree

Image: @mckenna71 on FreeImages.com

Into the Red by Kit Jewitt and Mike Toms

The most important bird book of 2022, this beautiful, tragic, surprising publication is, as the British Trust for Ornithology explains, “a collaboration between 70 authors and 70 artists”, that features the most endangered birds in Britain. Book sales raise funds for conservation work to reverse the decline of birds on the red list.  

Birds Through an Opera-Glass by Florence Merriam Bailey

Bird conservation was initiated by women, and so was birdwatching: this groundbreaking 19th-century guide marked the shift from shooting birds for sport to observing them alive.  

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Collins Bird Guide by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström

Any edition of this book will help with identification, whether you want to know what birds you’re seeing through your window or are racing off after a rare visitor.  

Coot Club by Arthur Ransome

The fifth Swallows and Amazons book is a vivid evocation of Norfolk, a gripping adventure story (with boats), and a touching tale of children determined to protect nesting birds.  

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier

The short story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s film, this Cornish winter tale of birds turning on people is a reminder that human acts have unknowable consequences, and shows how dangerously we can slip from sentimental views of the wild to seeing the natural world as alien and threatening.  

Birdsplaining cover

Birdsplaining: A Natural History by Jasmine Donahaye is out now (New Welsh Review, £9.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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