Thinking with Birds


Birds are the creatures that most often draw us to nature and hold our interest through life. How we think with them and how those ways of thinking have changed opens a window on our understanding of the world beyond the sidewalk. This article looks at three approaches, all from the late nineteenth century, which stand out today: birding, a mix of science, sentiment, self-education, and competition; birds around the home, mixing nature and our daily lives; and bird conservation, society’s organised reaction to our effect on the wild.