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Professor Bridget Stutchbury's Bird Detective reviewed in the The Globe & Mail

Professor Bridget Stutchbury's Bird Detective reviewed in the The Globe & Mail

In a May 8 review of Professor Bridget Stutchbury's new non-fiction book,  The Bird Detective, The Globe & Mail compared it to Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood. Stutchbury is a Canada Research Chair in  Ecology and Conservation Biology and a professor in the Department of Biology in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering:

In her latest novel, The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood invents new animals to entertain us and get across her concerns about environmental and social collapse.

. . .

In The Bird Detective: Investigating the Secret Lives of Birds, Bridget Stutchbury, Distinguished Research Professor of Biology in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and author of the Governor-General’s Literary Award-nominated Silence of the Songbirds, also uses animals to illustrate the effect humankind is having on nature. And she does it very effectively without Atwood’s black wit and disturbing scenarios.

The Bird Detective, in fact, is a cheery little book. Stutchbury delights readers with hundreds of amazing facts and stories about birds, mostly songbirds, which serve to make it all the more tragic that climate change, habitat loss, pesticide use, long-line fishing and other environmental sins are mixing up extraordinary behaviours that have evolved over thousands of years.

The complete review is available on the Globe's Web site.

The book was also reviewed by May 7:

As the outdoor reading season opens, Bridget Stutchbury’s new, informal work on bird behaviour, The Bird Detective: Investigating the Secret Life of Birds, just begs to be read under a backyard tree. The book could serve as beach reading too; marine birds such as the albatross and rhinoceros auklet put in appearances. But Stutchbury, a biologist in York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, has done much of her research on songbirds, and tales of their behaviour form the heart of the book.

Stutchbury examines big issues in the family life of any species – courtship, kids, infidelity and so on – and describes relevant research projects. Some examples come from her own work with her husband, evolutionary biologist Gene Morton, and some from other scientists.

Behind-the-scenes details set the book apart from typical wildlife guides. In one vignette, Stutchbury recalls conveying nestlings to and from weighing sessions by climbing ladders while clenching paper bags of baby birds in her teeth. The book takes a conversational approach to research, yet Stutchbury packs in a good number of intriguing findings while presenting the science clearly.

The complete review is available on

The Bird Detective was published by HarperCollins April 16.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.