Caspar Henderson

Fly Like a Bananaquit

Birds and People

By

Jonathan Cape 592pp £40 order from our bookshop

A Manx Shearwater was ringed as a three-month-old chick in its Welsh nest burrow. Fourteen days later the same bird arrived, unaccompanied by any of its kin, in its species’ usual winter quarters off the coast of Argentina, some 8,000 kilometres away. ‘An individual bird may repeat that same oceanic journey, back and forth, 100 times’ before it dies. In Victorian London the owner of a coaching inn at Elephant and Castle kept a raven. ‘The bird was also friendly with a number of the drivers and would set out on short happy excursions perched on top of their coaches, switching vehicles whenever an inbound driver happened to pass to take him back to the inn.’ Once home, the raven would consort with his closest friend, a large pet dog in the stables.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,