Birds Britannica

Birds Britannica is a book by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey,[1] about the birds of the United Kingdom, and a sister volume to Mabey's 1996[2] Flora Britannica,[1][2] about British plants. It was published in 2005[2] by Chatto & Windus.[2]

According to the project's official website:[1]

It covers cultural links; social history; birds as food; ecology; the lore and language of birds; myths, art, literature and music; anecdotes, birdsong and rare facts; modern developments; migration, the seasons and our sense of place.

Over 1,000 members of the public provided details of their observations and experiences,[1] during the book's eight-year[1] research period. Mabey's contribution was limited by his depression,[2] leading to Cocker having a leading role, doing the bulk of the work[3] and this more prominent credit.

Birds Britannica
Birds Britannica
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherChatto & Windus
Publication date
1 September 2005
Preceded by'Flora Britannica 
Followed by'Bugs Britannica 


The Guardian described the book as "a glorious encyclopedia"[2] and Cocker as "British bird life's perfect encyclopedist".[2] The Times said "The entries for every species are a fascinating distillation of expert knowledge, personal account, reminiscence, literary reference and folk belief".[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker & Richard Mabey". Random House. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dee, Tim (2005-08-20). "Review: Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b Marsden, Philip (2005-08-21). "Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey – Times Online". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2010.

External links

Barnacle goose

The barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) belongs to the genus Branta of black geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey Anser species. Despite its superficial similarity to the brant goose, genetic analysis has shown it is an eastern derivative of the cackling goose lineage.

Birds Britannia

Birds Britannia is a BBC's four-part television series about the birds of the United Kingdom, first shown from 7 to 28 November 2010 on BBC Four. It was produced by Stephen Moss.

Each of the four, sixty-minute episodes concentrates on one kind of bird: garden birds, waterbirds, seabirds and birds of the countryside.The series has no presenter, and is narrated by the Scottish actor Bill Paterson, with filmed interviews with a wide range of experts and bird enthusiasts, including David Attenborough, Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott, Tim Birkhead, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Christopher Frayling, Kate Humble, Rob Lambert, Desmond Morris, David Lindo, Helen Macdonald, Andrew Motion, Tony Soper, and Bill Oddie.It has been announced that a book of the same title, by Stephen Moss, will be published by Collins in April 2011 (ISBN 978-0007413447).

Black-tailed godwit

The black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) is a large, long-legged, long-billed shorebird first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It is a member of the godwit genus, Limosa. There are three subspecies, all with orange head, neck and chest in breeding plumage and dull grey-brown winter coloration, and distinctive black and white wingbar at all times.

Its breeding range stretches from Iceland through Europe and areas of central Asia. Black-tailed godwits spend (the northern hemisphere) winter in areas as diverse as the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, western Europe and west Africa. The species breeds in fens, lake edges, damp meadows, moorlands and bogs and uses estuaries, swamps and floods in (the northern hemisphere) winter; it is more likely to be found inland and on freshwater than the similar bar-tailed godwit. The world population is estimated to be 634,000 to 805,000 birds and is classified as Near Threatened. The black-tailed godwit is the national bird of the Netherlands

Black tern

The black tern (Chlidonias niger) is a small tern generally found in or near inland water in Europe and North America. As its name suggests, it has predominantly dark plumage. In some lights it can appear blue in the breeding season, hence the old English name "blue darr". The genus name is from Ancient Greek khelidonios, "swallow-like", from khelidon, "swallow": another old English name for the black tern is "carr (i.e. lake) swallow". The species name is from Latin niger "shining black".

Brant (goose)

The brant, or brent goose (Branta bernicla), is a species of goose of the genus Branta. The black brant is a pacific North American subspecies.

The Brent System, a major oilfield, was named after the species.

Cirl bunting

The cirl bunting ( SURL), Emberiza cirlus, is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae.

It breeds across southern Europe, on the Mediterranean islands and in north Africa. It is a resident of these warmer areas, and does not migrate in winter. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees, but has a preference for sunny slopes.

Changes in agricultural practice have affected this species very adversely at the northern fringes of its range, and in England, where it once occurred over much of the south of the country, it is now restricted to south Devon. The cirl bunting is the mascot on the signs for the village of Stokeinteignhead in Devon.

Domestic goose

Domestic geese (Anser anser domesticus or Anser cygnoides domesticus) are domesticated grey geese (either greylag geese or swan geese) that are kept by humans as poultry for their meat, eggs, and down feathers since ancient times.

European honey buzzard

The European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), also known as the pern or common pern, is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.

Goosey Goosey Gander

"Goosey Goosey Gander" is an English-language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 6488.

Iberian chiffchaff

The Iberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) is a species of leaf warbler endemic to Portugal, Spain and North Africa, west of a line stretching roughly from the western Pyrenees via the mountains of central Spain to the Atlantic.

Jonathan Elphick

Jonathan Elphick is a natural history author, editor and consultant. He is an eminent ornithologist, a qualified zoologist; Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. He is author of The Birdwatcher's Handbook: A Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland; Birds: The Art of Ornithology and The Natural History Museum Atlas of Bird Migration: Tracing the Great Journeys of the World's Birds, which received Bird Watching Magazine's 'Best Bird Reference Book of the Year'; as well as co-author of the Encyclopedia of Animals; the RSPB Pocket Birds; A Unique Photographic Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe with Jonathan Woodward and The National Parks and other Wild Places of Britain and Ireland, with photography by David Tipling.He has also been consultant, editor or author on a variety of other books, articles and CD-ROMs including Coastline with Greenpeace, and the BBC production of The Realms of the Russian Bear.

Mark Cocker

Mark Cocker is a British author and naturalist. He lives and works deep in the Norfolk countryside with his wife, Mary Muir, and two daughters in Claxton. All of his eight books have dealt with modern responses to the wild, whether found in landscape, human societies or in other species.

Cocker has written extensively for British newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent and BBC Wildlife. He has written a regular 'Country Diary' column in the Guardian since 1988 and a wildlife column in the international subscribers' edition, the Guardian Weekly from 1996–2002. He reviews regularly for the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement.

Nature writing

Nature writing is nonfiction or fiction prose or poetry about the natural environment. Nature writing encompasses a wide variety of works, ranging from those that place primary emphasis on natural history facts (such as field guides) to those in which philosophical interpretation predominate. It includes natural history essays, poetry, essays of solitude or escape, as well as travel and adventure writing.Nature writing often draws heavily on scientific information and facts about the natural world; at the same time, it is frequently written in the first person and incorporates personal observations of and philosophical reflections upon nature.

Modern nature writing traces its roots to the works of natural history that were popular in the second half of the 18th century and throughout the 19th. An important early figures was the "parson-naturalist" Gilbert White (1720 – 1793), a pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist. He is best known for his Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789).

William Bartram (1739 – 1823) is a significant early American pioneer naturalist who first work was published in 1791.

Northern wheatear

The northern wheatear or wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It is the most widespread member of the wheatear genus Oenanthe in Europe and Asia.

The northern wheatear is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in open stony country in Europe and Asia with footholds in northeastern Canada and Greenland as well as in northwestern Canada and Alaska. It nests in rock crevices and rabbit burrows. All birds spend most of their winter in Africa.

Ornithological Dictionary

The Ornithological Dictionary; or Alphabetical Synopsis of British Birds was written by the English naturalist and army officer George Montagu, and first published by J. White of Fleet Street, London in 1802.

It was one of the texts, along with Thomas Bewick's contemporaneous A History of British Birds (2 volumes, 1797 and 1804) that made ornithology popular in Britain, and, with the 1676 Ornithologia libri tres of Francis Willughby and John Ray, helped to make it the object of serious study. The book includes a description of the cirl bunting, discovered by Montagu in 1800 near his home in Kingsbridge, Devon.The first edition was admired by biologists including Charles Darwin and David Lack.

A second edition, extensively revised by James Rennie in 1831, was panned by scientific critics.


The osprey or more specifically the western osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

As its other common names suggest, the osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Three subspecies are usually recognized; one of the former subspecies, cristatus, has recently been given full species status and is referred to as the eastern osprey.

Pomarine jaeger

The pomarine jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus), pomarine skua, or pomatorhine skua, is a seabird in the skua family Stercorariidae. It is a migrant, wintering at sea in the tropical oceans.


Shite-hawk (also spelled shitehawk) or shit-hawk or shitty hawk is a slang name applied to various birds of prey that exhibit scavenging behaviour, originally and primarily the black kite, although the term has also been applied to other birds such as the herring gull. It is also a slang derogatory term for an unpleasant person.

The Eagle and Child

The Eagle and Child, nicknamed The Bird and Baby, is a pub in St Giles' Street, Oxford, England, owned by St. John's College, Oxford. The pub had been part of an endowment belonging to University College since the 17th century. It has associations with the Inklings writers' group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. In 2005, 25 other pubs had the same name.

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