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Life on the Wing - Brutus Ostling and Magnus Ullman

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IF YOU’VE ever wondered how ducks stay dry and warm, why gannets lay only one egg or why so many fledglings are speckled, you’re guaranteed to find the answer in Life on the Wing, a comprehensive guide to birds and their extraordinary lifestyles.

With an uncomplicated yet highly informative text by Swedish ornithologist Magnus Ullman and images from fellow Swede Brutus Ostling, Life on the Wing explores every conceivable aspect of bird behaviour.

As is usual with books of this nature, Life on the Wing is divided conveniently into sections, each taking an in-depth look at a particular subject. In How They Live, for example, hygiene, leadership, emotions, language, personality and morning song are just some of the aspects covered.

Other chapters are dedicated to appearance, food, habitat, migration and distribution, nesting and, perhaps not surprisingly, birds as flying machines – this is, after all, what birds really are (under all the window dressing).

But what makes Life on the Wing so special are the images. Although it’s true to say some are fairly ordinary, they nonetheless serve their purpose in identifying species; others however, are simply beautiful. Take the willow tit captured on a snowy February day in Finland or the close-up of a crane preening, they, like so many others, raise photography to an art form.

And as you would expect, Life on the Wing is beautifully presented on high quality paper, providing a visual feast that bird lovers can delight in, not once but countless times.