The Book of Birds will be a new kind of field guide, combining Robert’s words and and Jackie’s original artwork to celebrate the nearly seventy species of birds whose populations are in steep decline or face extinction risk, as defined by the ‘Red List’ compiled by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology. Robert explains; ‘we want to make a book that is founded in awe and that drives for change’; another ‘beautiful protest’ to borrow Jackie’s memorable phrase for The Lost Words.
Each of the disappearing birds – rare or common – will be named, celebrated, evoked; their flight, eggs, nests, landscapes, folk-names, habits and habitats painted in word and watercolour. Their presence in our skies and eyes and stories will be cherished, but – and – underlying the wonder will be the stark fact of their vulnerability and vanishing. This is a field-guide, then, but one which plays with form and concept to become something with a purpose and a neccessity, while still helping people to see and name, it focuses eye and mind on what is ‘in flight’ in two senses of the phrase. It is a field-guide to wonder, and a field guide to loss.