top of page

References for the book: BIRDS AND HUMANS: who are we?
The literature on birds is massive but the following can be picked out for special mention both as major sources for the present account and as excellent resources for further information. Acheroraptor reconstruction Sinornithosaurus Archaeopteryx lithographica Rhamphorhynchus Golden Eagle Waldrapp., Blue Jay, by Rhododendrites CC BY-SA 4.0 Emperor Penguin Feeding Chick. Kea in flight. Toby Hudson  CC BY-SA 3.0. A flock of domestic pigeons each in a different phase of its flap. Andreas Trepte. P.antiquus specimen (AMNH 1942). Bohemian waxwing Andreas Trepte - CC BY-SA 2.5. Rooster East Asian

Ackerman, J., The Genius of Birds, 2016.
Adam Fishbein, February 2, 2018 (Scientific American).
Andrew M. Berdahl et al. ‘Collective animal navigation and migratory culture: from theoretical models to empirical evidence’ (review article), Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 26 March 2018.
Barber, Theodore Xenophon, The Human Nature of Birds: A Scientific Discovery with Startling Implications, 1994.
Barnard, Alan, Hunter–Gatherers, What We Can Learn from Them, 2020.
Beckers, Gabriël J. L. et al. “A bird’s eye view of human language evolution”, Front. Evol. Neurosci., 13 April 2012.
Beecher, M. D. & Brenowitz, E. A. “Functional aspects of song learning in songbirds”.
Birds in Legend, Fable and Folklore by E. Ingersoll and Tari Warwick, 2020.
Birds use language like humans joining calls together to form sentences, The Daily Telegraph, 2015, Mar 8.
Boswall, J. (1998). “Answering the calls of nature: human mimicry of avian voice”, Transactions of Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society. 92: 10-11.
Bottjer, S. W. & Johnson, F. Circuits, hormones, and learning: vocal behavior in songbirds. Journal of Neurobiology 33, 1997.
Brainard, M. S. & Doupe, A. J. What songbirds teach us about learning. Nature 417, 2002.
Brenowitz, E. A. et al. An intro. to birdsong and the avian song system. Journal of Neurobiology 33, 1997.
C. R. Raby et al. “Facebook”. Nature, 2007, 445 (7130).
Catchpole, C. K. & Slater, P. J. B. Bird song: Biological Themes and Variations, 2008.
David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, 1998.
David E. Alexander, Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight. 2002.
David Rothenberg, Why birds sing, 2005.
Garth C Clifford, Bird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens), 2021,
Guss, David M., ed, The Language of the Birds, 1986.
Haesler, S. et al. “Incomplete and inaccurate vocal imitation after knockdown of FoxP2 in songbird basal ganglia nucleus area X”, PLoS Biology 5, 2007.
Harari, Yuval Noah, Homo deus. A, A Brief History of Tomorrow, 2017.
Harari, Yuval Noah, Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind, 2015.
Hayward, Guy “How do singers and other groups synchronise to form gcommunities?” in Ruth Finnegan, ed., Entrancement, Consciousness in Dreaming, Music and the World, 2019.
Hollis Taylor, Is Birdsong Music? 2017.

Huxley, T.H. (1876): Lectures on Evolution. New York Tribune. Extra 36, Collected Essays IV,
Irene Pepperberg (2006). “Grey parrot numerical competence: a review”. Animal Cognition. 9 (4).
Irene Pepperberg, 1999 The Alex studies: cognitive and communicative abilities of Grey parrots, 1999.
Jeffrey Sward, “Cuckoo and Other Bird Sounds Used in Classical Music”, 2016 (Wikipedia).
Konishi, M. The role of auditory feedback in the control of vocalization in the white-crowned sparrow. Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie 22, 1965.
Konrad Lorenz, King Solomon's Ring, 2002.
Laudanum, Nooshin, (1998). “The Song of the Nightingale: Processes of Improvisation in Dastgāh Segāh (Iranian Classical Music)”, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 1998,.7
Low, Chris, “Birds and Khoesān, linking spirits and healing with day-to-day life”, 2011 (
Luis Felipe Baptista and Robin A. Keister, “Why Birdsong is Sometimes Like Music”. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 2005, 48, 3.
MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A. “Sexual selection and the evolution of song repertoires.” In Current Ornithology, vol. 14, eds. V. J. Nolan, E. D. Ketterson, & C. F. Thompson (New York, NY: Plenum Press, 1997.
MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A. et al. “Nonlocal male mountain white-crowned sparrows have lower paternity and higher parasite loads than males singing local dialect”, Behavioral Ecology 13, 2002.
Mâche, François-Bernard (1993) Music, Myth and Nature, or The Dolphins of Arion.
Marker, Peter; Hans Willem Slabbekoorn (2004). Nature's music: the science of birdsong.
Marler, P. A comparative approach to vocal learning: song development in white-crowned sparrows. Journal of Comparative & Physiological Psychology 71, 1970.
Marler, Peter; Hans Willem Slabbekoorn, Nature's music: the science of birdsong, 2004.
Maynard Smith, John and David Harper, D. Animal Signals, 2004.
Maynard Smith, John, “Birds as aeroplanes”, New Biology 1954, 14.
McSherry, David (18 May 2014). “Nightingale & Violin Duet – 90 Years Since 1st Outside Broadcast”. University of Lincoln.
Michael Silvers, “Attending to the Nightingale: on a Multispecies Ethnomusicology”. Ethnomusicology 2020 64 (2)..
Mike Hansell (2000). Bird Nests and Construction Behaviour, 2000.
Mooney, R. “Neurobiology of song learning”, Current Opinion in Neurobiology 19, 2009.
Morrison, Lesley, The Healing Wisdom of Birds, 2011.
N.J. Emery and N.S. Clayton “The mentality of crows: convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes”. Science 2004, 306 (5703).
Nathan F Putman “Animal navigation: What is truth?” Current Biology 31, 7, 12 April 2021.
Nelson, D. A. & Marler, P. Selection-based learning in bird song development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 91, 1994.
Nettl, Bruno (1987). The radif of Persian music – studies of structure and cultural context.

Nichola S. Clayton et al. “Social cognition by food-caching corvids. The western scrub-jay as a natural psychologist”. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 2007, 362 (1480).
Nooshin, Laudan (1998). “The Song of the Nightingale: Processes of Improvisation in Dastgāh Segāh (Iranian Classical Music)”.  British Journal of Ethnomusicology. 7..
Norell, M & Ellison M (2005). Unearthing the Dragon, The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery.
Nozedar, Adele, Secret Language of Birds, 2006.
Padian K (ed.). The Origin of Birds and the Evolution of Flight. Mem. California Acad. Sci 8.
Peter Friederici, “The bird that never forgets”, National Wildlife 1 Oct, 2000.
Pradeep Raja Kannaiah | Parrots Cuddling ©
Raby, C. R., Alexis, D. M.; P, Dickinson, A. Clayton, N. S. (2007). “Planning for the future by western scrub–jays”. Nature. 445 (7130).
Ravens at the Tower of London © Colin / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY–SA 4.0.
Rebecca Franks (22 February 2016). “Six of the best: pieces inspired by birdsong”.
Reid, Chris (2017). “Is birdsong music? Ask the butcherbird”. RealTime Arts.
Robert Burton et al. Bird behavior, 1985.
Robert Burton, Bird Flight. Facts on File, 1990.
Rothenberg, David (2005). Why Birds Sing.
Sanga, Imani (2006). “Kumpolo: Aesthetic Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation of Bird Sounds in Tanzania”. Folklore. 117 (1).
Shepard Krech III, The Nature and Culture of Birds,
Silvers, Michael (2020). “Attending to the Nightingale: On a Multispecies Ethnomusicology”. Ethnomusicology. 64 (2)
Steven Feld, Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics and Song in Kaluli Expression, 1990.
Strycker, Noah, The Magic and Mystery of Birds: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human, 2014
Suthers, R. (2004). “How birds sing and why it matters”. In Marler, P. Slabbekoorn, H. (eds.). Nature's music: The science of birdson.
T. B. Jones and A.C. Kamil, A. C. (1973). “Tool-making and tool-using in the northern blue jay”. Science 1973, 180 (4090).
Taylor, Hollis (2017). “Is Birdsong Music?”.
The Folklore of Birds by Edward A. Armstrong, 1970.
Thorpe, W. H. “The learning of song patterns by birds, with especial reference to the song of the chaffinch Fringilla coelebs”, Ibis 100, 1958.
Toshitaka N. Suzuki, David Wheatcroft and Michael Griesser “Call combinations in birds and the evolution of compositional syntax”, Plos Biology, August 15, 2018.
Traykov, Stanislav - Cut out and cropped., CC BY 2.5, Pietà (Michelangelo)
Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20, 2005.

W. H. Thorpe, “Antiphonal Singing in Birds as Evidence for Avian Auditory Reaction Time”. Nature. 23 February 1963, 197 (4869).
Wada, H. (2010) The Development of Birdsong. Nature Education Knowledge 3, 10.
West, M. J. & King, A. P. Female visual displays affect the development of male song in the cowbird. Nature 334, 1988.
White, S. A. et al. “Singing mice, songbirds, and more: models for FOXP2 function and dysfunction in human speech and language”, Journal of Neuroscience, 2006.
Wilford, John Noble (28 March 2016). “Dinosaurs Among Us' Retraces an Evolutionary Path”. The New York Times.
Wong, Kate. “How Birds Evolved Their Incredible Diversity”. S11
Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation. Diagram of bone structure.


Photos by John Hunt at

ii          Swan landing (Alex Hunt)
2          Green-throated Carib, Barbados
10        Twelve bird montage
14        Guillemot in the Farne Islands,
16        Swimming penguin, Woburn Safari Park
18        Young gannet, Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire
19        Herring gull, Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire
20       Gannet up-stroke, Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire
21        Swan taking off, Milton Keynes (Alex Hunt)
42        Swallow nest, Lindisfarne Island, Yorkshire
43        Duck family, Christchurch, New Zealand
43        Puffins, Farne Islands, Northumberland
44        Peacock feather detail, Brownsea Island
48        Kittiwake family, Farne Islands
49        Mass flocking, New Zealand
53        Young Spanish sparrows, Lanzarote
53        Pair of swallows, Majorca
54        Oyster catchers, South Australia
58        Emus, near Cairns, Australia
74        Peacock, Brownsea Island, Dorset
74        Fledgling chaffinch, Yorkshire
82        Pair of young crows, Farne Islands
87        Fairy wren, Western Australia
91        Xmas robin, Cornwall
91        Hope Peace card, Milton Keynes
92        Troupial oriole, Aruba, Caribbean
97        Pelicans, Caribbean
97        Sunset, Caribbean
106      Greenfinch on feeder, Milton Keynes
106      Robin, Western Australia
107       Macaw parrot, Woburn Safari Park
108       Seagull attack, Sydney, Australia
109       King pigeon, North Island, New Zealand

bottom of page