The Birds They Sang
Birds and People in Life and Art
Translated by Bill Johnston
About the Book
Birds have inspired people since the dawn of time. They are the notes behind Mozart’s genius, the colours behind Audubon’s art and ballet’s swansong.
In The Birds They Sang, Stanisław Łubienski sheds light on some of history’s most meaningful bird and human interactions, from historical bird watchers in a German POW camp, to Billy and Kes in A Kestrel for a Knave. He muses on what exactly Hitchcock’s birds had in mind and reveals the true story behind the real James Bond. Undiscouraged by damp, discomfort and a reed bunting’s curse, Łubienski bears witness to the difficulties birds face today as people fail to accommodate them in rapidly changing times.
A soaring exploration of our fascination with birds, The Birds They Sang opens a vast realm of astonishing sounds, colours and meanings – a complete world in which we humans are never alone.
About the Author
Stanisław Łubieński first began observing birds in childhood through Soviet binoculars. Later, he took his hobby to a more serious level with trips to Hungary, Scandinavia and the Danube Delta. A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, he is the co-author of a series of films about the life of migrants in Warsaw. The Birds They Sang won the readers’ vote for the Nike Literary award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize.
‘An enchanting and thought-provoking mix of close observation of birds and cultural history, told with a new and refreshing perspective.’ Stephen Moss
‘An original and delightful book – intelligent and tender. Stanisław Łubienski is a warm-hearted guide, at once modest and passionate, funny and quizzical, and always brilliant on his birds.’ Tim Dee
‘A real balm to the soul’ Jackie Morris, winner of Kate Greenaway Medal 2019
‘A superlative deep dive into the natural world and humanity's role in it … Łubieński is infectious in his enthusiasms … This is a life-affirming work on what we as humans can learn about the avian world and what an attentive study of birds can teach us about ourselves.’ New Internationalist *****