Since the origins of our own species, birds have been at the heart of human cultures as food, as feather adornments and as all manner of practical artefacts. Sailors fashioned albatross feet into purses or tobacco pouches, Italian children wore penduline tit nests as socks. Penguin oil was once used to light our city streets. Hummingbird feathers are exchanged as love tokens and owl hearts are part of African black magic even today.

Birds have also been deployed as symbols of our most sacred values – as metaphors for love, truth, freedom and immortality – while avian flight has captivated the human imagination so that birds are woven into culture and art worldwide. Award-winning author Mark Cocker draws on examples explored in his massive and massively acclaimed book Birds and People. He considers the nature of this key relationship and explores why birds remain central ambassadors in our entire relationship with nature.

Speaker: Mark Cocker is a multi-award winning author and naturalist, whose 12 books include Crow Country, Our Place and Claxton. Over the last four decades he has also published more than 1000 essays on nature in national and international newspapers especially the Guardian.

Images courtesy of the speaker