Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle Cover Image
Special Order

Staff Reviews

Hanson, a conservation biologist, traces the development of birds and their feathers - why, when and how - taking us from research paleontologists to a shop in Las Vegas that dyes feathers by hand for costumes. Fascinating, informative, entertaining and highly readable. — Louise Jones


As seen on PBS's American Spring Live, one of America's great nature-writers explores the magic and science of feathers

Feathers are an evolutionary marvel: aerodynamic, insulating, beguiling. They date back more than 100 million years. Yet their story has never been fully told. In Feathers, biologist Thor Hanson details a sweeping natural history, as feathers have been used to fly, protect, attract, and adorn through time and place. Applying the research of paleontologists, ornithologists, biologists, engineers, and even art historians, Hanson asks: What are feathers? How did they evolve? What do they mean to us?

Engineers call feathers the most efficient insulating material ever discovered, and they are at the root of biology's most enduring debate. They silence the flight of owls and keep penguins dry below the ice. They have decorated queens, jesters, and priests. And they have inked documents from the Constitution to the novels of Jane Austen.

Feathers is a captivating and beautiful exploration of this most enchanting object.

About the Author

Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim Fellow, and author of award-winning books including Buzz, Feathers, The Impenetrable Forest, and The Triumph of Seeds. He lives with his wife and son on an island in Washington State.


Praise For…

"Thor Hanson's Feathers is a
sparkling history...popular natural history at its best."—New Scientist

"An illuminating study of an
evolutionary marvel."—Economist

"A winning book about the extraordinary place of feathers in
animal and human history."—Wall Street Journal

"Feathers is an impressive
blend of beauty, form, and function."—Natural History

"Thor Hanson's storytelling is
enhanced by his infectious excitement.... Feathers is a compelling
introduction to one of nature's wonders."—Nature

"A readable introduction to
feathers and what they mean for birds and mankind."—Science

is gracious, funny, persuasive and wide ranging."—Amanda Katz, New York Times

"[D]elightful.... [A]
fascinating inquiry into one of those common things that are easy to overlook
until someone shows what a miracle it is."—Seattle Times

"[Hanson] gives
unexpected substance to his nearly weightless subject."—Discover

Beginning with the evolution of birds, Hanson...unfolds the human fascination
with feathers in terms of science, commerce, tools, folklore, art, and
aerodynamics with panache."—Audubon

"There are many
feathery gems to be discovered in this book.... Feathers is a book
designed to be read, not skimmed, with every page revealing new layers of

"To read Feathers is
to meet up with an enthusiastic old friend who simply cannot wait to tell you
about something he just discovered...a must-read by bird watchers and
naturalists of all levels of interest or experience."—Bird Watcher's Digest

"A fascinating book...unusually
well-written. Highly recommended."—Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning author of The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country

"Absolutely fascinating
history, and a terrific read."—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"This is rich and engaging ornithology at its
best."—Frank B. Gill, author of Ornithology

"This is science
written in clear and entertaining prose; a great read."—Bernd Heinrich, Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Vermont; author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven

"Feathers is
simply a splendid book!"—Robert Michael Pyle, author of Wintergreen and Mariposa Road

"[A] fascinating and eminently readable

Product Details
ISBN: 9780465028788
ISBN-10: 0465028780
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: July 31st, 2012
Pages: 352
Language: English
Northshire Manchester Store

Northshire Manchester
4869 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
ph. 802.362.2200
ph. (toll free) 800.437.3700
Daily 10am-6pm
Directions to Manchester

Northshire Saratoga Store

Northshire Saratoga
424 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
ph. 518.682.4200
ph. (toll free) 855.339.5990
Daily 10am-6pm
Directions to Saratoga Springs