Birds – Master of The Air, Land, & Water


“That’s not normal,” he said. “They’ll argue with an empty room.”
Magpies and chickadees are two of Murphy’s favorite birds. The magpies’ varied vocalizations impresses him, along with their cunning ability to hide things. Likewise, Murphy is impressed by the chickadee’s ability to find stashes of food they leave cached in different places. Murphy buys large sacks of dog food he softens in water and feeds to the magpies in his yard, prompting odd looks from strangers at the store who ask what kind of dog he has.

Murphy has traveled the world as a photographer, outdoorsman and explorer. So the book also includes a variety of species, from east African Bateleur eagles to Falkland Island blue-eyed shags. In addition, there are close-up shots of feet, beaks, feathers and wings highlighting the variety of bird coloration and plumed finery.

The first chapter of the book is dedicated to feathers, as Murphy sees this feature as the one that distinguishes birds the most from other animals. “What makes a bird a bird basically comes down to feathers,” he wrote. “That’s what makes them the most unique.” The feathers he photographs up close sometimes come from birds he’s collected after finding them dead along roadways. The method is less deadly than his well-known bird-loving predecessors, John James Audubon and Elliott Ladd Coues, who shot birds to study and describe them. “They didn’t have the advantage of photography,” Murphy noted.

Photograph Number: BIRDS


Crystal Creek Press 2021
12” X 13”
272 pages