Jeremy MyNott begins his TLS review of Birds & People with this wonderful overview of ornith-anthropology:

“Birds are everywhere. They span the globe from the most inhospitable regions of the Arctic and Antarctic, across oceans and seas, through desert, mountain and plain, forest and jungle, right into the domesticated landscapes of our cities, farms and back gardens. But they get further still – not content with their presence in the physical world, they have made their homes within us too. They populate our minds and imaginations, arouse our emotions, become intimately associated with particular times and places, and intervene continuously in our daily lives. They enter our language as figures of speech – we talk about craning our necks, larking about, swanning around – and sometimes as buried metaphors (jinx is the ancient Greek word for wryneck, thought to be an evil charm); we make verbs of gull, rook, snipe and crow; we enlist owls, swallows and storks in proverbial sayings; we identify our political leaders as hawks or doves; and we know just what we mean when we call someone a magpie, vulture, dodo or gannet. And once we have internalized these conceptions of birds, we project them back onto the world in the form of symbols – on national flags, stamps and coins; on our street and pub names (some 3,000 of the latter in Britain alone); in churches (eagles as lecterns) and bookshops (Penguins, Pelicans, Puffins); and on sports logos (the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Cardinals, Norwich Canaries). We brand and decorate all manner of commercial products with birds: wallpaper, mugs, dresses, T-shirts and ornaments. And throughout history many of the world’s armies have marched under the standard of a bird (usually an eagle).”

More on: History, Science