The Sparrows

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The Sparrows Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
string(3) "352"
Pages: 352 Language: English ISBN: 9781408138243 Categories: , ,

Denis Summers-Smith first took up the study of the House Sparrow in 1947, thinking that the difficulties of travel in post-war Britain would best suit the study of a species always close at hand. The humble House Sparrow, common everywhere, was surprisingly poorly researched and his work soon provided interesting insights into this successful and adaptable little bird. As new opportunities to travel opened up, his interest blossomed to take in the genus Passer as a whole. His travels would ultimately lead to his study of all but one of the group, found only in deepest Turkestan, and to the publication of his authoritative monograph on sparrows in 1988. While that book presented his knowledge of sparrow biology, this volume tells the other, human, side of the tale. His wry descriptions of the tribulations and unexpected pleasures of a traveller on four continents, from the Himalayas and Thailand to Africa and the Americas (with a good few islands in between), are interspersed with observations and speculations on the biology of sparrows in a wide variety of habitats. Everywhere local officials and bird watchers warmed to the eccentric Scot in pursuit of the little birds that nobody notices but which so often make their homes beside us. The author’s own photographs and delightful cartoons by Euan Dunn further paint the picture of this lifelong search.

Weight0.6643728 kg
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Author Biography

Denis Summers-Smith is a mechanical engineer and, although nominally retiring in 1982, still continues to consult in tribology, his specialist field; in this capacity he has visited all six continents in the past five years. He confesses to an obsessional interest in sparrows. This began in 1947 with a study of the House Sparrow that led to the publication of The House Sparrow in 1963. He then broadened his interest to the other members of the genus, travelling extensively throughout Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean basin in their pursuit. A second book, The Sparrows, appeared in 1988. His wife, Margaret, has been a faithful attendant on most of these journeys. He has served on committees of the British Ornithologists' Union and the British Trust for Ornithology, publishing a number of papers in the journals of both these societies.