How did cranes come to symbolize matrimonial happiness? Why were magpies the only creatures that would not go inside Noah’s Ark?
Birds and bird imagery are integral parts of our language and culture. With her remarkable ability to dig up curious and captivating facts, Diana Wells hatches a treat for active birders and armchair enthusiasts alike. Meet the intrepid adventurers and naturalists who risked their lives to describe and name new birds. Learn the mythical stories of the gods and goddess associated with bird names. Explore the avian emblems used by our greatest writers–from Coleridge’s albatross in “The Ancient Mariner” to Poe’s raven.
A sampling of the bird lore you’ll find inside:
- Benjamin Franklin didn’t want the bald eagle on our National Seal because of its “bad moral character,” (it steals from other birds); he lobbied for the turkey instead.
- Chaffinches, whose Latin name means “unmarried,” are called “bachelor birds” because they congregate in flocks of one gender.
- Since mockingbirds mimic speech, some Native American tribes fed mockingbird hearts to their children, believing it helped them learn language.
- A group of starlings is called a murmuration because they chatter so when they roost in the thousands.
Organized alphabetically, each of these bird tales is accompanied by a two-color line drawing. Dip into 100 Birds and you’ll never look at a sparrow, an ostrich, or a wren in quite the same way.
Diana Wells is the author of 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names and 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, has written for Friends Journal, and is contributing editor of the journal Greenprints. Born in Jerusalem, she has lived in England and Italy and holds an honors degree in history from Oxford University. She now lives with her husband on a farm in Pennsylvania.