Birds Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines book cover image

Birds: Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines

  • 795

By: Caroline Arnold / Illustrated by: Patricia J. Wynne

Hovering, gliding, diving -- how do birds do it?

Birds: Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines looks at how feathers, body structure, and wings vary from bird to bird. Readers will learn the mechanics of bird flight from takeoff to landing and discover how wing types meet the survival needs of each species. Popular science writer Caroline Arnold infuses this informative look at avian flight with her love of birds. Patricia J. Wynne's exquisitely detailed illustrations show these amazing creatures in action.

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Author & Illustrator Bios:

Caroline Arnold, author

Caroline Arnold grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and spent her summers at a small camp in northern Wisconsin. It was there that she developed her love of animals and the outdoors, delighting in catching sight of deer leaping through the underbrush or a porcupine scrambling up a pine tree.

Read more about Caroline.

Patricia Wynne, illustrator

Patricia Wynne is a well-known scientific illustrator whose art has been included in many collections and exhibited around the country. Her detailed illustrations have appeared in 90 books, including The Body Book, Tropical Rain Forest, and Hello, Bumblebee Bat, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book. Patricia lives in New York City.

Read more about Patricia.

Awards & Honors:

  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
  • CCBC Choices
  • Science Books & Films Best Books for Junior High and High School Readers
  • ABC Best Books for Children

Editorial Reviews:


The author of Hawk Highway in the Sky (1997) and many other natural history titles captures the wonders of bird flight in this brief but specific examination of avian bones, feathers, and other physical features, illustrated both aptly and expressively by precisely drawn portraits of more than three dozen birds-plus a selection of other animal fliers and gliders-Arnold's text explains the principles of aerodynamic lift, then considers the ins and outs of taking off, hovering, changing direction, and, trickiest of all, landing. From this soaring alternative or companion to the likes of Sandra Markle's Outside and Inside Birds (1994) and Robin Page's Animals in Flight (2001), illustrated by Steve Jenkins, children will not only learn the differences between primary, secondary, tertiary, covert, contour, and downy feathers but also come away with a deeper appreciation of how they all work to give birds, as it were, a leg up.

Kirkus Reviews

A terrific example of the best sort of science book for young readers, this focuses on one aspect of birds, their ability to fly, and examines it from all angles. We see how a bird's flight is related to its anatomy-long wings are good for soaring, for example, while short, rounded wings are good for fast turns-and how that anatomy is also related to the bird's habitat and lifestyle. Ruffled grouses don't need to soar; albatrosses do. This form-follows-function argument allows readers to extrapolate beyond the book, and more fully understand birds they might see on their own. The detailed, vibrant illustrations enhance and enliven the text; they and the lovely clear layout make this book a delight for the eye. A winner.

School Library Journal

Veteran science writer Arnold offers another winner: a clear, interesting book about how birds fly. In an easy-to-follow text, she discusses the concept of lift and how birds' wings and feathers are structured to make flight possible. She explains taking off, flapping, gliding, hovering and soaring, and steering and landing, and also describes how birds are structured for the kind of flying necessary to their way of life, with facts about how fast and how long certain species can fly. The book ends with a look at birds that can't fly as well as other animals that can, along with some facts about birds' dinosaur-age ancestor, the Archaeopteryx. Each spread contains one or two paragraphs with a large, full-color illustration as well as smaller, captioned pictures that cover such topics as bone structure and preening. The colorful artwork consistently clarifies the concepts being discussed. Many different species are depicted and identified. Excellent as a source for reports or for general-interest reading.


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ISBN: 978-1-57091-572-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-207-6 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 6-9
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11

If you like this book, you’ll enjoy these:
The Bird Alphabet Book
Feathers: Not Just for Flying