Stray Feathers: reflections on the structure, behaviour and evolution of birds
Did you know that Barn Owls can hunt in absolute darkness? That cuckoos begin incubation before their egg is laid? That some bird species have different vocal dialects, depending on their postcode, and others will sing half-a-day to attract a mate?
20 July 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011
Olsen P & Joseph L. 2011. Stray Feathers: Reflections on the Structure, Behaviour and Evolution of Birds. CSIRO PUBLISHING, 288pp.
'Stray Feathers explores the notion that when we see a bird in the field, we are really looking at the results and actions of evolution,' says Dr Leo Joseph, co-author and Director of CSIRO’s Australian National Wildlife Collection.
'A bird’s appearance and behaviour, the sounds it makes as vocalisations or even with specially modified wing feathers, where it nests, how it builds its nest, and what its eggs look like, all reflect the current point at which a bird finds itself on an evolutionary lineage. That lineage is a path that its ancestors have travelled as the species has evolved.'
Through these kinds of lenses Stray Feathers examines every aspect of birds’ lives. Its various sections take the reader into how evolution has tailored birds for finding food and mates, rearing their young and or even for migrating across the planet.
The behaviour of our birds is quite a revelation, and Stray Feathers: Reflections on the Structure, Behaviour and Evolution of Birds, details just how amazing they are.
- Anatomy and physiology
- The senses
- Giving voice
- Tongues talking
'When we see a bird in the field, we are really looking at the results and actions of evolution,'
Dr Leo Joseph, co-author
- Getting around
- Finding and handling food
- Optimising foraging and feeding
- Reducing competition
- Using ‘tools’
- Quality vs quantity
- Parental care
- Chicks: behaving badly; behaving well
- Living together: same species
- Living together: different species.
About the authors
Penny Olsen AM is a research scientist and experienced author and editor, with a fascination for birds. She has written 14 books, four of which have won Whitley Awards, and over 200 papers in refereed journals. An Associate Professor at the Australian National University, she sits on various conservation and natural resource management committees and hopes to keep writing about Australia’s wonderful wildlife until she drops off the perch.
Leo Joseph is the Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO, Canberra. He has been involved in ornithology as an amateur and research scientist for some 35 years and has published widely in national and international scientific journals. From 1997-2005, he was the Research Curator in the Department of Ornithology, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, USA. Passionate about the evolution of Australian birds, he sees this book as an opportunity to acquaint a broad audience with the spectacular results of evolution in Australian birds.
View the book's Table of Contents and sample pages on the CSIRO PUBLISHING website (via Google Preview).