The dawn chorus: a single voice cutting through the darkness heralds a breaking wave of sound at the very beginning of the day. It is an iconic natural phenomenon with many familiar performers, yet it is a mysterious event for which there is no complete explanation.
A mass of starlings gathers at the end of the midwinter day. As the sun sets, wave upon wave of bodies rolls in and embarks upon another of nature's great attempts to show off. The murmuration is another much-admired spectacle, but again its purpose is obscure and defies our understanding.
From dawn until dusk, birds do things that are surprising and mystifying. Songs of Love and War delves into bird behaviour and uncovers its purpose and meaning.
More than just an inside look at bird behaviour, this book also represents a personal journey of discovery. What starts as a desire to learn more about the birds encountered on a regular father-and-son walk through the woods leads to a realisation that a bird's life is very far from the idyllic scene that can often be glimpsed by the casual birdwatcher. Actually a bird's life is often unusual and surprising, but above all it is brief and much darker than you might think.
Dominic Couzens is an ornithologist and wildlife journalist. He contributes regularly to Bird Watching and BBC Wildlife magazines, and has written a wide range of books about birds and other animals, including Secret Lives of Garden Birds, Tales of Remarkable Birds and Birds: ID Insights.