The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson

How do Atlantic puffins spend their winters? What is the difference between Atlantic puffins and razorbills and what do they have in common? Which other seabirds are there on our planet? On my journeys so far I was lucky enough to have been able to observe several seabirds in their natural habitat. Therefore, I was more than happy to have found the book "The Seabird's Cry" by Adam Nicolson. The book is full with many interesting facts and stories about most common seabirds, and thus, is a great start to get more into these fascinating animals. I think it is a highly recommendable book for all people interested in birds!

The Seabird’s Cry

Title: The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers
Author: Adam Nicolson
Imprint: William Collins
Length: 416 pages
Published: 2021
Language: English


Seabirds are master navigators, thriving in the most demanding environment on earth. In this masterly book, drawing on all the most recent research, Adam Nicolson follows them to the coasts and islands of Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and the Americas. Beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird's Cry is a celebration of the wonders of the only creatures at home in the air, on land and on the sea. It also carries a warning: the number of seabirds has dropped by two-thirds since 1950. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony will this century become little but a memory.

Thoughts about the book

Did you know that Atlantic puffins follow each winter their individual migration route year after year? And that these migration routes can even lead them to the Mediterranean Sea? Or that there are about 18 million black-legged kittiwakes on the Northern hemisphere? Or that guillemots have to become good hunters before they can start breeding?

The book "The Seabird's Cry" is full with many interesting information about seabirds. Readers learn more about most common seabirds like northern fulmars, Atlantic puffins, black-legged kittiwakes, seagulls, guillemots, cormorants, shearwaters, northern gannets, razorbills, and albatrosses in 11 chapters. However, important to mention, "most common" hear does not mean that we know everything about these birds.

Adam Nicolson knows very well how he can combine scientific facts about these birds with his own personal observations. I was looking for a book exactly like this. I wanted to know more about seabirds which I had encountered already on my journey, but I didn't want to read a boring text with fact after fact.

On my journeys I had encountered already several seabirds, and thus, I wanted to learn more about them. My previous journeys led me, for example, to Heligoland where I saw northern gannets or to the Azores where I observed Cory's shearwaters. On my journey to Iceland I even had encountered several seabirds like puffins, razorbills, and guillemots.

In the book I read many interesting things. For example, I read that Cory's shearwaters have probably an olfactory memory in order to navigate on the oceans. I found this information especially interesting, because just a few months before I had visited the Azores and had observed these magnificent birds. I also found interesting to read that 98% of seabirds live in colonies (as a comparison, among terrestrial birds, only about 20% breed in colonies). It was also exciting and surprising for me to read about the differences among seabirds. In this way I learned that chicks of razorbills leave their nests earlier than chicks of puffins. However, while chicks of razorbills are accompanied and supported by their parents, puffins are completely on their own after leaving their nests.

I have to admit, however, that I needed some time to read the book, because I needed some time to process all the information I got. It was, by the way, helpful for me to see the birds in my memory while reading. As I had already seen many seabirds before, I had an image of them in my memory, also about their behavior and how their habitats looked like.

If you want to know more about seabirds, I think, that "The Seabird's Cry" is a very good starting point. If you want to know more about just a specific seabird, you can also read just the corresponding chapter, as the chapters don't relate to each other. Thus, if you are interested in just one specific bird species, you don't have to read the other chapters (although I think it is worth a read).


Take your time reading the book. Don't hurry through the stories and the information. Give yourself time being fascinated by these seabirds. The book is for everyone interested in birds. Enjoy reading!

Have you read the book? Or do you know another book about seabirds? If yes, please let me know in the comments.

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