To be honest, I'm not a terribly religious person, so I'm not sure why I picked up a copy of Debbie Blue's Consider the Birds. But oh, am I glad I did. Debbie Blue has compiled information about several birds that play a prominent role in the Bible--ravens, eagles, pigeons, ostriches, and chickens among them (yes! Chickens!) and takes a close look at each one. That close look involves a religious aspect--Blue is a pastor--but it also takes a much deeper dive, looking at the biology, history, and mythology of each bird. She upends some points of conventional wisdom (really, doves may not be the best symbol for purity and innocence, and eagles as a symbol of courage and bravery? Maybe not) and pops out with some unexpected facts (did you know vultures projectile-vomit onto anything that startles them? Or that baby pelicans faint after feeding? Or that eagles have eyes three times as powerful as the human eye?).
Blue is a great writer too, someone who demonstrates her fascination with her topic and can draw the reader into that fascination. What's more, she can lovingly cast her attention to some birds that have not historically been revered--vultures and ostriches--and make them, if not lovely, at least interesting and even endearing. She even speaks up for the lowly sparrow, which for centuries has been hated and hunted.
Even her descriptions are loving and vivid: "A hen is a fussy old woman--a fat-bottomed grandma in an apron pickling cucumbers."
A lovely read that made me even more interested in the world of birds. Oh, and the illustrations by Jim Larson? Worth the price of the book.