Staff Pick

With its wild yellow eyes and outsize ear tufts, the Blakiston’s fish owl resembles a mad professor, and once Slaght caught sight of one as a teenager in Russia in the 1980s, he never forgot it. So when he needed a dissertation topic in 2006 he designed a five-year project to study the owls’ habits and develop a plan to rebuild its dwindling populations. His riveting account of these winter field studies in Russia’s far southeastern Primorye Province is written with both passion and scientific exactitude—and well leavened with humor and striking prose. Attentive to the owls’ entire ecosystem, Slaght interweaves detailed descriptions of the birds’ hunting prowess and haunting courtship duets with vivid portraits of the fish, insects, plants, and mammals they share the forests with. This last includes not only tigers and deer, but loggers, poachers, and all manner of colorful backwoods characters, both sober and not. Throughout, Slaght treats all his subjects with empathy and insight—reserving harsh judgment only for his own perceived failures to protect the owls from the disruption of capture and tagging his study imposes—evidence enough that, despite moments of stress, these birds are in good hands.


Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374228484
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 4th, 2020

Staff Pick

What happens when a philosopher and an ornithologist collaborate? Philippe J. Dubois and Elise Rousseau use the lens of bird behavior to present a deep examination of what it means to be human. Newly translated from the French by Jennifer Higgins, A Short Philosophy of Birds (Dey Street, $19.99) touches on equality, family, love, beauty, freedom, power, pleasure, otherness, death, and more. Some philosophical questions must be asked anew by each generation and some questions are of emerging importance. To the question of freedom, the authors point to hens and doves who, when allowed complete freedom, stay near their coops. To the question of gender equality in parenting—a matter seldom considered by many generations of male philosophers—Dubois and Rousseau point to the sandpiper, who lays two separate clutches of eggs, one for her to raise, and one to be raised by her mate, creating two independent "households." This unique, trim volume is an antidote to the unexamined life and a balm for the nature lover or those fed up with human behavior.

A Short Philosophy of Birds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062945679
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Dey Street Books - September 24th, 2019

Staff Pick
The beauty found in what is common is the theme of Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Mozart's Starling.  The author rescues an orphaned starling chick; soon a bond develops between her and one of these unloveliest of birds.  Haupt interweaves that story with an account of Mozart's pet starling, and what that can say about the way his music can still touch us: "Mozart's truest elegy for his small friend [was] to disturb us out of complacency: to show us the wild, imperfect murmuring harmony of the world we inhabit; to draw our own lives into the song.”
Mozart's Starling Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316370899
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Spark - April 4th, 2017