Any well read individual will tell you: while it’s scarcely possible to pick a favourite, there are always those books that incite passion past your expectations.
For Nick Royle, Professor of Literary Theory, one such book is Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead, a text that explores birds in ways humans rarely consider, but perhaps ought to consider.
At first the prospect seemed compellingly bizarre; why birds? But soon Nick explained to me a web of intrigue which painted birds as more mysterious and alien than we usually appreciate.
A key feature of the book was its calling into question of what is known as Anthropocentrism, or the view that humans are the central creatures of the ecosystem; and it explored this notion through startling observations of evolutionary divergence.
One of the author’s specialisations on the subject is promiscuity among birds. And get this: The male Red Billed Buffalo Weaver has a false penis.
Without meaning to shock you, the sheer inconceivability of Bird Sense extends far further than that. Thoughts of birds having a sixth sense, a magnetic sense, and the idea of how infallible it is to actually comprehend a true bird’s eye view, despite using the phrase as every day language, makes it so apparent as to why Nick finds birds so fascinating. There is clearly an immeasurable depth to them that goes on unappreciated. To use his own words; “thinking about birds pervades literature.”