I couldn’t get past the dense, distant writing style. Esther Woolfson begins her “Life with Birds” when she comes by some doves… I think they came with the property when she moved in. From there, she gains a parrot or two, then begins collecting a stray, abandoned baby bird here and there, until ultimately she earns some recognition as a kind of Bird Lady who will take in any distressed baby bird in need of a home.
The book discusses the rats, doves, and parrots who pass through her life, but ultimately spends the most time on the corvids – particularly a rook, whom she calls “Chicken”, who lived closely with her for many years; and a magpie christened “Spike.”
Somehow, despite her voluminously worded attempts, she just never managed to explain to me the appeal of these pets. I get that she sensed an intelligence on a level comparable if not exactly equal to her own when she looked into those corvid eyes. I get the interest. I just never feel the attachment. I think that sums it up best.
And frankly, her many, many off-the-cuff “oh just Chicken being Chicken” descriptions of the corvid habit of “cacheing” – i.e. hiding things – including such delectable things as bits of ground meat, pieces of seafood – and her finding these lovely gifts in the fold of her pants leg or under the rug untold amounts of time later – yeah, that didn’t really hit home the appeal of birds to me, either.
The only aspect of the book that really kept me reading was totally unrelated to anything avian – Woolfson dwells in Aberdeen, Scotland, and her descriptions of place were very enjoyable to me.