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Francis Gooding: Beaks and Talons, 21 February 2019

The Wonderful Mr Willughby: The First True Ornithologist 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £25, May 2018, 978 1 4088 7848 4
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Mrs Moreau’s Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names 
by Stephen Moss.
Faber, 357 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 78335 090 2
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... Wonderful Mr Willughby is the story of Willughby’s short life, elegantly and engagingly told by Tim Birkhead, with the creation of the Ornithology as its central drama. Willughby died in 1672 aged 36, before he had finished any of the major works which bear his name – just a few papers on wasp behaviour had been published by the Royal Society, to ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... business, over in 0.1 seconds. Fast enough to do it while your mother’s back is turned. Tim Birkhead and his fellow evolutionary biologists, exploring the nature of sexuality across species from single-celled organisms to humankind, are the paparazzi of the science world. They travel to remote islands and put up with extreme discomfort in the ...

Bird-man swallows human

David Craig: Birds’ Eggs, 20 October 2016

The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and outside) a Bird’s Egg 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 4088 5125 8
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... Guillemot egg patterns To come upon a bird’s egg is to be close to a natural wonder, even if Birkhead is perhaps a shade too purple in saying that eggs ‘have an erotic aura all of their own’. My own sightings of eggs have been infrequent (collecting the eggs of Khaki Campbell ducks from among the reeds near a house in Aberdeenshire during the ...

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