Why Birds Sing: A Journey Through the Mystery of Bird Song

Front Cover
Basic Books, 2005 - Nature - 258 pages
16 Reviews
The astonishing variety and richness of bird song is both an aesthetic and a scientific mystery. Biologists have never been able to understand why bird song displays are often so inventive and why so many species devote so many hours to singing. The standard explanations, which generally have to do with territoriality and sexual display, don’t begin to account for the astonishing variety and energy that the commonest birds exhibit. Is it possible that birds sing because they like to? This seemingly na ve explanation is starting to look more and more like the truth.In the tradition of classic works by Bernd Heinrich, Edward Abbey, and Terry Tempest Williams, Why Birds Sing is a lyric exploration of bird song that blends the latest scientific research with a deep understanding of musical beauty and form. Based on conversations with neuroscientists, ecologists, and composers, it is the first book to investigate why birds sing and how, and what effect their music has on other animals—particularly humans. Whether playing the clarinet with the white-crested laughing thrush in Pittsburgh, or jamming in the Australian winter breeding grounds of the Albert’s lyrebird, Rothenberg journeys to the heart and soul of bird song. Why Birds Sing offers an intimate look at the most lovely of natural phenomena—with surprising insights about the origin of music.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MarthaJeanne - LibraryThing

I also have the related CD. Some of it is sublime, some I don't get. That pretty much goes for the book, too. Rothenberg traces all the many ways people have studied bird song, and that we mostly don ... Read full review

Review: Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Birdsong

User Review  - Julie - Goodreads

After two attempts, I have to put this book down. It promised me science, it promised me music, but all it's delivering, after more than two chapters, is rhetorical questions and contradictory ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

David Rothenberg-philosopher and musician-is the author of Why Birds Sing, which has been published in six languages and turned into a TV documentary by the BBC; Sudden Music; Hand’s End; and Always the Mountains. His articles have appeared in Parabola, Orion, The Nation, Wired, Dwell, Kyoto Journal, and Sierra. He is the founding editor of the Terra Nova journal and book series. Rothenberg is also a composer and jazz clarinetist who has released seven CDs, one of which, On the Cliffs of the Heart, was named one of the top ten releases of 1995 by Jazziz Magazine. He lives in Cold Spring, New York.

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