Kim Todd

My Works

Books


Sparrow
Sparrows are everywhere and wear many guises. Able to live in the Arctic and the desert, from Beijing to San Francisco, the house sparrow is the most ubiquitous wild bird in the world. They are the subject of elegies by Catullus and John Skelton and listed as “pretty things” in Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book—but they’re also urban vermin with shocking manners that were so reviled that Mao placed them on the list of Four Pests and ordered the Chinese people to kill them on sight.

In Sparrow, award-winning science and natural history writer Kim Todd explores the bird's complex history, biology, and literary tradition. Todd describes the difference between Old World sparrows, like the house sparrow, which can nest in a garage or in an airport, and New World sparrows, which often stake their claim to remote islands or meadows in the high Sierra. In addition, she looks at the nineteenth-century Sparrow War in the United States—a battle over the sparrow’s introduction—which set the stage for decades of discussions of invasive species. She examines the ways in which sparrows have taught us about evolution and the shocking recent decline of house sparrows in cities globally—this disappearance of a bird that seemed hardwired for success remains an ornithological mystery.

With lush illustrations, ranging from early woodcuts and illuminated manuscripts to contemporary wildlife photography, this is the first book-length exploration of the natural and cultural history of this beloved, reviled, and ubiquitous bird.

Chrysalis, Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis
Before Darwin, before Audubon, there was Merian. An artist turned naturalist known for her stunning butterfly images, she was born just sixteen years after Galileo proclaimed that the earth orbited the sun. But at the age of fifty she sailed from Europe to the New World on a solo scientific expedi­tion to study insect metamorphosis—an unheard-of journey for any naturalist at that time, much less a woman. When she returned she produced a book that secured her reputation, only to have it savaged in the nineteenth century by scientists who disdained the work of “amateurs.”

Tinkering with Eden, A Natural History of Exotics in America
Tinkering with Eden, a Natural History of Exotics in America, tells the stories of non-native species and how they arrived in the United States. Species covered range from pigeons, brought over by some of the earliest colonists, to starlings, imported by a man who wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare to Central Park. The book explores our developing understanding of exotic species as we become more aware of the potential problems they may pose for native ecosystems. Tinkering with Eden received the PEN/Jerard Award and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award and was selected as one of Booklist’s Top Ten Science/Technical Books for 2001.

Anthologies


Selected Articles


Selected Works

Books
Innocent. Invader. Lover. Thief. A natural and cultural history of this much loved, much reviled bird.
Before Darwin, before Audubon, there was Maria Sibylla Merian. The dramatic story of a woman's scientific expedi­tion to the New World to study insect metamorphosis at a time when such a journey was almost unthinkable.
"You really can't fool Mother Nature, as Kim Todd vividly shows in her fascinating, cautionary first book."--New York Times Book Review

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