Naturalist Stephen Moss digs beneath the surface of some of our most popular Christmas carols in an ornithological celebration of the Festive Season.
Using the structure of the carol as a jumping off point, he explores the place of twelve fascinating British birds in our history, culture and landscape. Some of the birds are obvious, there's the swan and of course the partridge. Other chapters are loose interpretations of a verse: for drummers drumming he delves into the woodpecker's distinctive drumming tap. Woodpeckers, he explains, have special padded skulls to mitigate against using its head like hammer drills. They carefully select dead trees for the most hollow, sonorous sound.
With brilliant anecdotes and insights, Stephen Moss weaves history, culture, bird behaviour and folklore into a compelling narrative for each species, tracing its fortunes over the past two centuries.