When There Were Birds: The Forgotten History of our Connections

Written by:
Roy Adkins , Lesley Adkins
Narrated by:
John Telfer

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2022
14 hours 44 minutes
'A marvellously original slice of social history' (Daily Mail)

'The facts and folklore of birdlife . . . are dissected in admirable detail' (The Sunday Times)

Birds are a joy and solace in troubled times, as well as a reminder of past experiences and a symbol of hope for the future. For centuries, they were also seen as a source of food, feathers, and even fuel, and being so numerous many were persecuted as pests. When There Were Birds is a social history of Britain that charts the complex connections between people and birds, set against a background of changes in the landscape and evolving tastes, beliefs, and behavior. Birds were once key elements of the nation's history, traditions, and sports, which gave rise to a rich legacy of literature, language, and myths.

No other group of animals has had such a complex relationship with humankind. Birds have been kept as pets, taught to speak, and displayed as trophies. More practically, they have been used to tell time, predict weather, foretell marriages, provide cures for ailments, convey messages, and warn of poisonous gases.

Although very familiar, birds have often seemed strange, sinister and alarming. With their ability to fly, they bridged the gap between the earth and the heavens, and superstitions were rife because they were presumed to be linked to the supernatural. When There Were Birds draws together many disparate, forgotten strands to present a story that is an intriguing and unexpectedly significant part of our heritage.
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