The Music of Wild Birds

An Illustrated, Annotated, and Opinionated Guide to Fifty Birds and Their Songs

By Judy Pelikan

From an idea by F. Schuyler Mathews

Published by Algonquin Books

One hundred years ago, F. Schuyler Mathews, an erudite naturalist and birder, theorized that birds sing first for love of music, and second for love of the lady. To expand on his theory, he actually scored the songs of birds in the wild. His charming text and bird-by-bird annotations were compiled into a guide called Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music. This extraordinary work has now been lavishly illustrated and adapted for a new audience.

Each bird is meticulously rendered by artist Judy Pelikan in full-color illustrations that feature not only the birds, but also their nests, eggs, and feathers. And every song is represented by its written musical score, which Mathews expertly explains in a way that both musicians and non-musicians can enjoy.

As Mathews points out, the music of wild birds is everywhere--in poems, children's nursery songs, as well as in the works of the great composers: the Black-billed Cuckoo's call appears near the close of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony; the Nashville Warbler's song is found in the opening bars of Rossini's Carovale, and the Meadowlark's song is remarkably like the first two bars of Alfredo's song in La Traviata.

He reveals how a bird's character is reflected in its song: the Baltimore Oriole is a sharp-billed, sharp-witted character, and his remarks are as incisive and crisp as the toots of a steam whistle. And he reminds us of the words of our great poets--Wordsworth, Emerson, Sir Walter Scott--and their descriptions of the very same birds and their music.

This classic, useful, and completely original guide will put a song into the heart of novice and experienced birder alike.

$18.95 (US)

Product Details
Number of pages
Publication date
February 05, 2004
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Judy Pelikan

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F. Schuyler Mathews

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