There’s a good reason I’m feeling a bit British today. Today – May 14, 2020 – is the day my book, Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds, is released in the United Kingdom.
I’m an American writer, born and bred, residing in the U.S. with my U.S. citizenship, passport, tax forms, and accent. So why am I a bit British today? My publisher, Quadrille Publishing Ltd., is a division of Hardie Grant, an Australian media business (part of the Commonwealth, though independent of the United Kingdom). Quadrille’s main office is in London, which is where my editor is based, and therefore, where my connections to the company lie.
Frankly, I’m not particularly great with time zones, political affiliations, or British spelling, but I do know that my book uses colour instead of color, references kilometers before miles, and has pounds sterling (£) listed as pricing before dollars ($) on the back cover. This is all perfectly fine by me, as the book isn’t bound by political borders, and nor are the birds it shares. One of the key features of Migration from the very beginning has been its global scope, rather than focusing on migratory birds on a single continent, along one flyway route, or in one hotspot. Through the research, writing, and editing, I took great care to pay equal attention to birds throughout the world, and to show how amazing birds are on every continent, regardless of the geographic boundaries we’ve imposed on them.
Still, today is a giddy day, as it’s the very first day the book is officially available in its hardcover format, regardless of region. So, it’s worth a bit of celebration. To do so, I’m taking a bit of a closer look at British birds.
5 Fun Facts About British Birds
- There is no official national bird of the United Kingdom, though the European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is often referenced in that role. Its symbolism has never been affirmed by Parliament or any other official body, however, though the bird is often used unofficially.
- More than 600 bird species have been recorded in Great Britain, according to the British Ornithologists Union. Many of those, however, are either rare sightings or vagrant species that occasionally appear. Roughly 300 birds are regularly seen in Great Britain.
- The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) has the largest wingspan of any bird in Great Britain, reaching up to 244 centimeters (96 inches). It is also one of the heaviest birds, weighing up to 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds).
- The Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula) is the most common bird in Great Britain, with an estimated 12 million birds breeding in the country. They’re an adaptable species, and found in a wide variety of habitats including urban and suburban areas.
- Queen Elizabeth II (the reigning British monarch) technically owns all unmarked mute swans (Cygnus olor) in open water in the United Kingdom, though that ownership is only practically exercised around Windsor on certain stretches of the River Thames.
So, won’t you celebrate this auspicious day with me, in whatever British fashion you wish? Perhaps a cup of tea, a scone, a browse through a British field guide, or hey, even ordering Migration for your own birding library! Let’s fly!