The Thing with Feathers cover

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human

An entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world—and deep connection with humanity.

Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.

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The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

Noah Strycker is a birder and naturalist who has traveled the world in pursuit of his flighty subjects. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, he spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and reveals the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds. Beautiful and wise, funny and insightful, The Thing with Feathers is a gripping and enlightening journey into the lives of birds.



News and reviews

“He thinks like a biologist but writes like a poet, and one of the small pleasures of ‘The Thing With Feathers’ is watching him distill empirical research into lyrical imagery,” the Wall Street Journal says in a review published March 21, 2014. “Although Mr. Strycker is only in his late 20s, he writes like a man who’s ripened into advanced eccentricity.” Read the whole review here (may require sign-in).

Listen to Noah talk about his book on American Public Media’s nationally broadcast show The Dinner Party Download.

Here’s Noah talking about “The Thing With Feathers” with KUOW in Seattle (he does owl calls on this one) and on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The Toronto Star has a Q&A interview. That’s the biggest newspaper in Canada.

And the Washington Independent Review of Books says this of TTWF: “… a book replete in the joy of discovery and, even more, the hope of continued surprises. Readers will ask only for more books from Noah Strycker that share his encompassing and unabashed love of the natural world.”


More Praise for The Thing with Feathers:

“Noah Strycker explores… the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book, and you’ll never look at the chickadee on your feeder the same way again.

—Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind and The First Frontier

 “A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchies—a work of dazzling range, nimbly written.”

—Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper

 “I’ve read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Birds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject.”

—Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat

“Now that anthropomorphic approaches to studying animals are gaining respectability, Strycker’s book is all the more relevant. A fine choice for birders and readers in natural history.”

—Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Free Library of Philadelphia