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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo

Michael McCarthy

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Prose: non-fiction, Natural history

A celebration of the migrant birds that herald spring and a stark warning that they may be fast disappearing.

If we could see it as a whole, if they all arrived in a single flock, say, we would be truly amazed: sixteen million birds. Swallows, martins, swifts, warblers, wagtails, wheatears, cuckoos, chats, nightingales, nightjars, thrushes, pipits and flycatchers pouring into Britain from sub-Saharan Africa.

It is one of the enduring wonders of the natural world. Each bird faces the most daunting of journeys - navigating epic distances, dependent on bodily fuel reserves. Yet none can refuse. Since pterodactyls flew, twice-yearly odysseys have been the lot of migrant birds.

For us, for millennia, the Great Arrival has been celebrated. From The Song of Solomon, through Keats' Ode To a Nightingale, to our thrill at hearing the first cuckoo call each year, the spring-bringers are timeless heralds of shared seasonal joy.

Yet, migrant birds are finding it increasingly hard to make the perilous journeys across the African desert. Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo is a moving call to arms by an impassioned expert: get outside, teach your children about these birds, don't let them disappear from our shores and hearts.

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Praise for Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo

  • A beautiful and important book - Simon Barnes, author of HOW TO BE A BAD BIRDWATCHER

  • We owe a debt to a writer like McCarthy, who paints so well the portrait of natural riches we think our birthright ... McCarthy paints a portrait of a magical bird universe - Daily Mail

  • This is a joyful book - Daily Express

  • Michael McCarthy is one of the best environmental journalists there is - Sunday Telegraph

  • This is a valuable guide to what we'll soon miss - Geographical Magazine

  • This is the most important book I have read for a long time ... it boils with enthusiasm ... many will greatly enjoy the rich and informative prose ... to not read this book is a crime against conservation and the cost is almost beyond comprehension - BBC Countryfile Magazine

  • A stark picture of the fate of migratory birds - BBC Country File Magazine

  • This book could easily have been a grim litany of despair ... instead Michael McCarthy has taken the opportunity to celebrate our summer migrants ... this book reminds us of what we stand to lose and why we cannot afford to take the cuckoo for granted - BBC Wildlife

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Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy has won a string of awards for his writing on the environment and the natural world, first as Environment Correspondent of The Times, and later as Environment Editor of the Independent. These have included Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards, the Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for 'outstanding services to conservation', the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology, and the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London. In 2008 McCarthy wrote Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo, a study of Britain's declining summer migrant birds, which was widely praised.

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