An Indifference of Birds (Book Review)

I’m hooked on Richard Smyth’s writing. Always witty and entertaining, it represents the best of independent publishing.

His latest release, “An Indifference of Birds,” hosts a new perspective. It is a historical take from the avian perspective. This enjoyable read displays the ties between humanity and birds through the ages. From our accidental nature preserves, to the bonds we share, this book hosts the ups and downs of our relationship.

I specifically enjoyed reading about Chernobyl and how wildlife, especially certain birds, have adapted to that area. It’s a particular interest of mine, learning about areas that were destroyed by human actions and how fast they recover.

But thankfully this book isn’t about how “terrible” humans are and all the destruction we’ve caused. The topic is addressed from a balanced point-of-view. Yes we have made poor decisions at times or just accidentally harmed bird species with our carelessness throughout history, but some good has come of our connection and having that acknowledged makes this read very hopeful in my eyes.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

-When we’re children we grow up not just within homes, not just within families and communities, but within ecologies, too — encircled by clouds of birds, sharing the air with insects and pollen, our paths crisscrossing those of hedgehogs and mice; our lives are shaped and tempered by these living worlds, these embracing atmospheres into which each of us is born.

-We’ve made monsters we don’t know how to fight.

-Nature is about now. ‘Natural’ means us, too, if it means anything.

-I think a bird’s being extends beyond entertaining, wit, its outstretched wingtips: its identity is knotted up in its habitat, in the world that has shaped it, and continues to shape it.

-Birds change, we change, the world changes.

-No human ever lived in a birdless world.

-Our worlds, the little worlds of all living things, are enmeshed beyond all entangling. And yet we’re not all one, the birds, us, the insects, worms, flowers, the rest, not exactly; we’re walled up within our own experiences, our own capacities. We share a physical world but our sensory and mental worlds remain discrete, entire, complete.

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