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Publisher Description

One spring morning, a young magpie fell from its nest in a Bermondsey junkyard and landed in Charlie Gilmour's life. Abandoned by its parents, the black-and-white bird was unable to fly or even feed itself. It found an unlikely new magpie-father in Charlie, an accident-prone human as qualified for the role as a bird for babysitting.

Terrified and starving, the magpie screamed for food every twenty minutes. Raw mincemeat. Grubs. Spiders. The bird grew in strength, and by the time it was well enough to spread its wings, an unbreakable bond had been forged across species. The magpie flew away only to return - a feathered new member of the family.

Charlie didn't know it at the time, but birds like this already were part of his family. His biological father, a magician who vanished in the dead of night when Charlie was a baby, had a similar bond with a jackdaw. Jackdaws and magpies share family ties. They're both members of the crow family. Carrion kin.

This unlikely repetition of birds across time raised questions about the limits of love and whether we can ever truly escape the past.

Featherhood is the story of a love affair between a man and a magpie. It's also a story about change. From wild to tame; from sanity to madness; from life to death to birth; from freedom to captivity and back again, via an insane asylum, a prison, and a magpie's nest. Exploring the extent to which we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers, Featherhood is ultimately about the triumph of nurture over nature.

Science & Nature
August 27