A Sky Full of Birds Summary By Matt Merritt

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A Sky Full of Birds (2016) is a heartfelt exploration of Britain's birdlife.

This book takes readers on a journey through the fascinating world of birds, diving deep into their mating rituals and migration patterns.

The book also explains why bird behaviours like murmurations, murder, swan songs, and more are culturally so significant.

Readers will gain terrific insight into the lives and behaviours of different types of British birds with enriching descriptions and images throughout the book.

A Sky Full of Birds

Book Name: A Sky Full of Birds (In Search of Murders, Murmurations and Britain’s Great Bird Gatherings)

Author(s): Matt Merritt

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Nature & the Environment

Author Bio

Matt Merritt is an award-winning author and birdwatcher.

His writing has been featured in various prestigious publications, including Bird Watching Magazine (where he serves as editor) and Under the Radar (as poetry editor).

He is the creator behind A Sky Full of Birds, a stunning compilation of poems that captures the beauty of birds and birding.

He weaves together observations from his life with facts from bird-watching science, creating a captivating narrative that will draw you into his world.

Matt's work shows his talent for combining artistry with ornithology -- making A Sky Full of Birds one book you won't want to miss!

Explore the Fascinating World of Birds: From Ravens to Grebes and Beyond

World of Birds

You may be familiar with some of the more common birds like the cuckoo and the owl, but have you really considered the hidden beauty of the world of birds? In A Sky Full of Birds, you can discover just that.

It tells us all about why Britain is such a great country for bird lovers, as well as learning who makes up their “jazz improvisers and classical singers”.

We also learn what murder, mob or unkindness means in their world, and why ravens are linked to evil.

Overall, this book will allow you to explore the beauty and fascination of the amazing avian world around us.

With A Sky Full of Birds, you can find out about all sorts of interesting bird facts – from their aerobatic skills to mysterious folklore!

The Variety of Ways Birds Woo Their Mates: From Dancing to Strutting to Fighting

Given the range of techniques British birds use to attract a mate, it’s no surprise that these creatures can put on quite a show.

From dancing and strutting to downright fighting, British birds will use whatever means necessary to get the attention of the female of their species.

Take, for instance, the great-crested grebe—a bird which finds a new partner every year.

Female grebes are particularly drawn to males with impressive dance moves and so it’s not unusual for these turtles to pirouette and paddle rapidly towards one another in an attempt at courtship.

On the other hand, capercaillies prefer to strut rather than dance.

Once extinct in Britain but since reintroduced in 1837, these birds are now found in Scottish pinelands and they make full use of their good looks while courting in forest clearings.

Then there’s the black grouse—males of this species perform an interesting ritual each November when females finally arrive on the scene!

These brave gentlemen place themselves at great risk by engaging in physical fights for their lady love’s approval – all done while emitting an odd call and fanning out their tails!

It is truly extraordinary how British birds have adapted various strategies over time to attract their mates; from dancing and calling displays right through to physical altercations – all are fascinating methods used by our avian friends!

The Astonishing Beauty of the British Dawn Chorus and its Variety of Melodies

Beauty of the British

The British dawn chorus is one of the world’s largest and most varied, with an impressive variety of species.

In the winter months, it’s just a single species sounding out its song; in springtime however, more local and migrant birds join in, creating a crescendo of calls and songs that are both powerful and mesmerizing.

At the heart of this chorus lies the distinction between bird call and bird song: calls are short and sharp, whilst singing is a way of announcing oneself – its purpose being to say “I’m here!”.

The blackbird has a classical melody, whereas thrushes sing short improvised phrases at full volume several times – sometimes even adapting their own artistry by borrowing phrases from other birds they hear.

Additionally, marsh warblers can manage to incorporate 75 different songs into their own unique collage!

It’s easy to be awed by such complexity in birdsong each morning – certainly enough variation to be enjoyed from season to season.

To appreciate it fully you need to understand what kinds of melodies are sung by which birds: only then can we truly discern the individual voices within the dawn chorus.

Migration is a Way of Life for Britain’s Bird Residents and Visitors Alike

Britain is home to a diverse and ever-changing range of migratory birds throughout the entire year.

From late March to early April, swallows will often visit Britain during their journey as they make their way from one place to another.

And, for young cuckoos, Britain provides a summer home until September when they head off towards the Sahara Desert.

During the autumn and winter months, many bird species are drawn to the milder climate created by the Gulf Stream which causes temperatures in Britain to be far more pleasurable than other places located similarly north.

Blackbirds sometimes migrate away from eastern Britain if temperatures become too cold and outsiders travel from Europe and Scandinavia to fill their spaces.

Finally, some birds such as black-tailed godwits are partial migrants with only few individuals travelling unless dictated so by harsh weather or food shortages.

The same goes for godwits who usually make their winter homes in Spain and Portugal but may also retreat up north to countries such as Iceland, while others may even commute between these northern sites and warmer climates depending on weather conditions and food accessibility.

The Magnificent and Misunderstood Predator: Raptor Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey, otherwise known as raptors, have inspired awe in humans throughout history for their impressive hunting skills and power.

We’re in awe of the kestrel’s ability to judge and control its position in the wind, spot its prey from far below, and even see traces of urine.

We marvel at the peregrine falcon, the fastest creature on earth with speeds topping over 200 mph – faster than a cheetah!

But despite our admiration for these powerful predators, humans have also persecuted them.

It’s been believed that they’ve stolen game birds from gamekeepers, lambs from farmers and fish right out of lakes – leading to large-scale culling.

However these hunting tactics have had no real impact on population counts except on a local level.

During World War II, pigeons were used as a crucial communication tool between occupied Europe and Britain – so people feared that peregrines eating them would get in the way.

This resulted in an unfortunate decline in peregrine populations until recently when conservation efforts provided relief and allowed the population to slowly recover.

Today you can find peregrines perching atop cathedral spires or amusing visitors outside contemporary art museums like London’s Tate Modern.

Raptor persecution has been seen throughout history – but now it’s time to celebrate their beauty and appreciate them as we always should have done!

The Wonders of Murmurations: How Starlings Create Amazing Aerial Shapes

Starlings are one of Britain’s most beloved bird species because of their spectacular murmurations.

These pre-roost gatherings often start off with just a few birds, but in no time at least reach into the thousands, with some birds even coming from 30 miles away to join in on the festivities!

The sight of these gathered flocks forming stunning shapes as they soar across the skies is truly mesmerizing, making it no wonder that starlings have been so highly regarded over the years.

Even the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was moved to describe starling murmurations as “smoke, mist, or anything misty without volition.”

What makes starlings such an intriguing species is that we still don’t know why they form these vast flocks and perform such complex aerobatics.

Most other birds opt for more inconspicuous roosts to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators, yet starlings seem to be drawn to large gatherings that draw attention rather than staying hidden.

Although we may not have all of the answers yet, there’s no denying that starlings make some of the most mysterious and poetic birds in Britain – one could even say they are true artists of the sky!

The Intelligent and Misunderstood Corvid: More Than Just a Dark Omen

Corvids, the family of birds including ravens, crows and jackdaws, have been surrounded by dark omens and folklore for centuries.

It could be because they appear more frightening than other garden birds or due to their past association with Vikings and paganism.

Another plausible explanation might be that corvids were associated with battle-fields and dead human flesh in the past.

But whatever the reason for this negative reputation, there is no denying their intelligence.

In fact, scientists have found that corvids are capable of counting objects up to 30 people – something other birds aren’t able to do – as well as calling other ravens when they spot food and showing signs of sensitivity towards emotional distress.

This goes on to show that despite their dark history, corvids are much more complex creatures than what meets the eye.

Britain is Home to More than Just Swans: 50,000 Wild Parakeets Also Roam the Nation’s Skies

Nation's Skies

When it comes to mythology, swans and parakeets are definitely no strangers.

For starters, many people believe that all types of swans belong to the Queen.

Even though this is not true for certain species, it’s true that mute swans in open water were “owned” by the crown in the past.

This myth was further reinforced when you think about how swans often featuring as centerpieces during large royal feasts.

Additionally, some people also claim that a swan sings before dying, which is false at least when it comes to mute swans, who can hiss or grunt but not sing!

Then there’s the parakeet.

You wouldn’t expect such a brightly colored bird to survive in bleak British weather – but they do!

The ring-necked parakeet was native to southern India and can withstand harsh conditions like deforestation or air pollution.

How they got to Britain is still a mystery today – with some suggesting that Jimi Hendrix released two onto Carnaby Street back in 1967 or Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn set them free in The African Queen – although it’s likely more probable that caged pet parakeet owners either intentionally or accidentally released their pet parakeets into the wild.

Nowadays around 50,000 wild parakeets call Britain home.

Wrap Up

The final message of A Sky Full of Birds is that Britain is a true paradise for both bird lovers and birds alike.

From the variety of fascinating mating rituals, to the amazing migration patterns and diverse bird songs, British birds provide an endless source of inspiration for myths, superstitions and more!

Whether you want to go on a bird watching adventure or just discover more about these magnificent creatures, this book has something for everyone.

Through captivating stories, engaging illustrations and extensive research, you can journey through the wilds of British bird life with passionate enthusiasm.

So don’t miss out – pick up your copy today!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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