Shore Birds

Perching Birds and Songbirds

Other Birds




Appendix: Other Species

Notes to Part I

Credits and Permissions

Animal Index

Subject Index


Copyright Page


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was

Spawning snow and pink roses against it

Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:

World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world

Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes

On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.


hugest whole creation may be less

incalculable than a single kiss



The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.

It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this

emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and

stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.


Any book on homosexuality and transgender in animals is necessarily unfinished, a work in progress. The subject is so vast, the types of behaviors so varied, and the number of species involved so large, as to defy any attempt at comprehensiveness. And the scientific research in this area is only in its infancy: new developments and discoveries are continually being made, and the extent of uncharted and as yet unknowable terrain is so great as to render any attempt at completeness hopelessly premature.

Notwithstanding such formidable challenges, this book endeavors to present a reasonably extensive and up- to-date account of the subject. To help narrow the field, certain parameters have been chosen: only examples of homosexual behavior or transgender that have been scientifically documented, for example, are covered in this book (such documentation includes published reports in scientific journals and monographs, and/or firsthand observations by zoologists, wildlife biologists, and other trained animal observers, corroborated by multiple sources whenever possible). Not only does this limit the number of species to be included (many more cases undoubtedly occur but have not been so documented), it establishes a uniform and verifiable platform of data on which to base further discussion. In addition, the book focuses primarily on mammals and birds—not because other types of animals are somehow less interesting or “important,” but simply because space and time limitations necessitate that not all species can be covered. These two groups are considered to be sufficiently representative and to have a broad enough appeal to warrant their inclusion, however arbitrary the exclusion of others may be.

Even with these parameters in place, however, an enormous amount of ground must still be covered. In addition to discussing an extensive array of species (nearly 300 mammals and birds), the book draws upon more than two centuries of scientific research. Some of the findings reported here in a few sentences represent literally lifetimes of work on the part of biologists, who often devote their entire careers to studying one very specific and complex aspect of one type of behavior, in one particular population of one particular species. With this in mind, the book should be seen not as a final, definitive pronouncement on the subject, but rather as a beginning or overture,

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