Jennifer Ackerman discusses The Bird Way

I have spent a lot of time during this quarantine looking at birds, in part because my boyfriend is an avowed bird nerd, but mostly because I’m always in search of something new to look at while I spend my days close to home. In addition to the migratory species that briefly visited en route to their summer destinations, I’ve become closely acquainted with the blue jays, woodpeckers, and orioles that visit my back porch during cocktail hour. On walks around the neighborhood’s ponds, I’ve met cormorants, herons, and many mother ducks that, like human parents, are tasked with teaching their offspring important life skills, like how to swim and how to avoid being trampled by a car, a bike, or an errant foot. Each of these creatures behaves differently, and while I like to think I know why they do the things they do, I am no ornithologist. Enter Jennifer Ackerman, whose 2016 book The Genius of Birds taught readers a bit about the way birds think. Her new book, The Bird Way, offers similar insights into the ways birds around the world act. Some of them are aggressive, some are compassionate, and all of them are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. On Sunday, Ackerman will lead a Zoom discussion of The Bird Way as part of Politics and Prose’s P&P Live! Series. She might not be able to tell me how to convince my backyard blue jays to stop squawking at sunrise, but maybe I’ll start to understand why they do it. The discussion begins at 5 p.m. on July 12. Registration is available at Free; donations recommended. —Caroline Jones