When There Were Birds

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Just before dawn, 7th June 1917, huge underground mines were detonated beneath the German lines by the British army. It was the start of the Battle of Messines at the Ypres Salient: 'Then came the greatest miracle of all, for with the rose flush in the sky the whole bird chorus of morning came to life. Never, surely, did birds sing so - blackbird and thrush, lark, and black-cap and willow warbler, their notes pealed up as if each bird were struck with frenzy and all together strove to shout down the guns. This book is not an environmental account of the great decline in bird numbers over recent decades. Instead, it is a social history charting the complex relationships between people and birds, against a background of evolving tastes, beliefs and behaviour, as well as changing landscapes and ideas.