Birds of Pandemonium: life among the exotic and the endangered.

Birds of Pandemonium: life among the exotic and the endangered. Michele Raffin.
Birds of Pandemonium: life among the exotic and the endangered.

Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014. Octavo, colour photographs, fine copy in dustwrapper.

Michele Raffin has made an important contribution to saving endangered birds, and her book is a fascinating and rarely seen glimpse behind the scenes. Housing over 40 species, Pandemonium Aviaries is a conservation organisation dedicated to saving and breeding birds at the edge of extinction, including some of the largest populations of rare species in the world. This book explores the birds individuality and behavior as they fall in love, mourn, rejoice, sacrifice, have a sense of humor, feel jealous, invent, plot, cope, and sometimes even murder each other. Their stories make up the heart of this book. There s Sweetie, a tiny quail with an outsize personality; the inspiring Oscar, a Lady Gouldian finch who can't fly but finds a way to reach the highest perches of his aviary to roost. The ecstatic reunion of a disabled Victoria crowned pigeon, Wing, and her brother, Coffee, is as wondrous as the silent kinship that develops between Amadeus, a one-legged turaco, and an autistic young visitor. Ultimately, this is about one woman's crusade to save precious lives, bird by bird, and offers insights into how following a passion can transform not only oneself but also the world.

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