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Aaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds: North America, Britain, and Northern Europe

Condition: BRAND NEW
ISBN: 9780262014298
Author(s): John Bevis
Format: Hardcover
Year: 2010
Publisher: Mit Press
Dimensions: 113 x 179 x 19 (w x l x h)
Pages: 160
Pages: 18

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Description:
Birds sing and call, sometimes in complex and beautiful arrangements of notes, sometimes in one-line repetitions that resemble a ringtone more than a symphony. Listening, we are stirred, transported, and even envious of birds' ability to produce what Shelley called "profuse strains of unpremeditated art." And for hundreds of years, we have tried to write down what we hear when birds sing. Poets have put birdsong in verse (Thomas Nashe: "Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo") and ornithologists have transcribed bird sounds more methodically. Drawing on this history of bird writing, in Aaaaw to Zzzzzd John Bevis offers a lexicon of the words of birds. For tourists in Birdland, there could be no more charming phrasebook. Consulting it, we find seven distinct variations of "hoo" attributed to seven different species of owls, from a simple hoo to the more ambitious hoo hoo hoo-hoo, ho hoo hoo-hoo; the understated cheet of the tree swallow; the resonant kreeaaaaaaaaaaar of the Swainson's hawk; the modest peep peep peep of the meadow pipit. We learn that some people hear the Baltimore oriole saying "here, here, come right here, dear" and the yellowhammer saying "a little bit of bread and no cheese." Bevis, a poet, frames his lexicons—one for North America and one for Britain and northern Europe—with an evocative apprec
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