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Avian Illuminations

A Cultural History of Birds

An exquisitely illustrated journey through the complex and crucial relationship between humans and birds.
Avian Illuminations examines the many roles birds have played in human society, from food, messengers, deities, and pets, to omens, muses, timekeepers, custodians, hunting companions, decorative motifs, and, most importantly, embodiments of our aspirations. Boria Sax narrates the history of our relationships with a host of bird species, including crows, owls, parrots, falcons, eagles, nightingales, hummingbirds, and many more. Along the way, Sax describes how birds’ nesting has symbolized human romance, how their flight has inspired inventors throughout history, and he concludes by showing that the interconnections between birds and humans are so manifold that a world without birds would effectively mean an end to human culture itself. Beautifully illustrated, Avian Illuminations is a superb overview of humanity’s long and rich association with our avian companions.

456 pages | 102 color plates, 105 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Biological Sciences: Natural History

History: General History

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“The wonderful Avian Illuminations traces in rich and fascinating detail the cultural relationships between humans and birds through history, philosophy, religion, and art. This is a book for difficult times—it entertains, educates, elucidates, and, in its assessment of what might be necessary to repair a damaged world, gives us hope.”

Esther Woolfson, author of "Corvus: A Life with Birds" and "Between Light and Storm: How We Live with Other Species"

“Sax has long been my most trusted guide to understanding the complex relationships between humans and animals. In Avian Illuminations . . . he weaves a complex portrait of the symbolic richness of our portrayals of birds throughout history and myth.”

Ceridwen Dovey, author of "Blood Kin" and "Only the Animals"

“A beautifully written intellectual treat that will delight anyone interested in the feathered creatures we share our world with.”

Hal Herzog, author of "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals"

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