Guardian columnist & Springwatch expert Stephen Moss combines detective work, natural history, folklore and first hand observations to explore how birds got their names and our long and eventful relationship with the natural world.
We use names so often, and with such little thought, that we often forget to pause and wonder about their origins. What do they mean? Where did they come from? And who originally created them?
Since the dawn of mankind we have been driven by a primordial urge to name the birds and beasts of the earth and skies. It is through names that we make sense of the world around us, and through understanding these names, we can arrive at a greater awareness of our world.
Many of our most familiar birds are named after people or places, sometimes after their sound or appearance, or perhaps after their quirky little habits. But sometimes a little more detective work is required to find the deeper meanings and stories behind the names. And a familiar face such as the blackbird, may not turn out to be named after its colour after all.
Through unexpected encounters with the bird kingdom, from the familiar sparrow to the many-coloured rush-tyrant of Patagonia, Stephen Moss shows us that something as small as a name can carry a whole story - an arctic expedition, a pitched battle between rival ornithologists or the discovery of a new system of genetic hybridisation. Mrs Moreau's Warbler is a journey through time, from when humans and birds first shared the world, up to the present day, as we find ourselves struggling to coexist sustainably with our feathered friends.
Stephen Moss is one of Britain's leading nature writers, broadcasters and wildlife television producers. After reading English at Cambridge, he spent many years at the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, where his TV credits include the BAFTA award-winning Springwatch, Big Cat Diary, The Nature of Britain and Birds Britannia. He has written a number of books on the natural world, including A Bird in the Bush: A Social History of Birdwatching ( 2004), Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: the Natural History of an English Village (2011), Tweet of the Day (2014) and the bestselling, Wonderland (2017).
Wildlife: birds & birdwatching