• A Most Remarkable Creature

  • The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey
  • By: Jonathan Meiburg
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Meiburg
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (405 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Utterly captivating and beautifully written, this book is a hugely entertaining and enlightening exploration of a bird so wickedly smart, curious, and social, it boggles the mind.” (Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Bird Way)

A fascinating, entertaining, and totally engrossing story.” (David Sibley, author of What It's Like to Be a Bird)

An enthralling account of a modern voyage of discovery as we meet the clever, social birds of prey called caracaras, which puzzled Darwin, fascinate modern-day falconers, and carry secrets of our planet's deep past in their family history.

“As curious, wide-ranging, gregarious, and intelligent as its subject.” (Charles C. Mann, author of 1491)

In 1833, Charles Darwin was astonished by an animal he met in the Falkland Islands: handsome, social, and oddly crow-like falcons that were "tame and inquisitive...quarrelsome and passionate", and so insatiably curious that they stole hats, compasses, and other valuables from the crew of the Beagle. Darwin wondered why these birds were confined to remote islands at the tip of South America, sensing a larger story, but he set this mystery aside and never returned to it.

Almost two hundred years later, Jonathan Meiburg takes up this chase. He takes us through South America, from the fog-bound coasts of Tierra del Fuego to the tropical forests of Guyana, in search of these birds: striated caracaras, which still exist, though they're very rare. He reveals the wild, fascinating story of their history, origins, and possible futures. And along the way, he draws us into the life and work of William Henry Hudson, the Victorian writer and naturalist who championed caracaras as an unsung wonder of the natural world, and to falconry parks in the English countryside, where captive caracaras perform incredible feats of memory and problem-solving. A Most Remarkable Creature is a hybrid of science writing, travelogue, and biography, as generous and accessible as it is sophisticated, and absolutely riveting.

©2021 Jonathan Meiburg (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year

“A fascinating, entertaining, and totally engrossing story of these under-appreciated birds, deftly intertwining natural history and human history, and with insights and lessons that go far beyond the subject birds.” (David Sibley, author of What It's Like to Be a Bird

“Caracaras are not like other birds, or even other birds of prey. Curious, wide-ranging, gregarious, and intelligent, the ten species of caracara are a scientific puzzle that has intrigued biologists since the days of Darwin. And this book - as curious, wide-ranging, gregarious, and intelligent as its subject - is not like any other book that I have encountered. A Most Remarkable Creature is not only about a bird, but about the community of people that has formed, almost accidentally, around the bird, and beyond that about humankind itself.” (Charles C. Mann, author of 1491

"If caracaras were able to read - and immersing myself in Mr. Meiburg’s vivid prose I sometimes fancied they just might be - this book would give them a lot of information about that exceptional creature named Jonathan Meiburg.” (Christoph Irmscher, Wall Street Journal

What listeners say about A Most Remarkable Creature

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I don't leave reviews often, but . . .

I've been listening to books about birds for about a year. This one excels. The book was so rich, well written, fun and informative it's hard to think of a way it could have been better. The book explores this unusual and understudied raptor in delicious details. But more than that it covers so much about the context of its study, adventures of the author, historical figures I've never heard of but were fascinating. The author is a fantastic writer and narrator, one of the best i've listened to. I must admit I'm usually not excited when I see the author of a book is also the narrator, but Meiburg is exceptional. Seriously, if you are interested in birds, evolution, history of science or adventure, get this book. I can't praise it more highly.

24 people found this helpful

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Loved It - A Most Remarkable Book!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this book, which I bought totally on a whim because I am a newly established "bird person". What I got was a beautifully crafted book which told the story of these remarkable birds. The narration provided an armchair tour of many remote and beautiful locations scattered throughout South America. The author's descriptions of these places were so vivid that they came to life in my mind and I even loved the crew he traveled with because they all contributed so much richness to the experience.

10 people found this helpful

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Interesting Book About a Family of Birds

Full disclosure: I am not a bird person. I would never have a bird as a pet and bird watching seems like an odd activity to me. This book is well written and goes into great detail about the author's quest to learn about an interesting family of omnivorous birds and the places and people he meets along the way. It kept my interest, though in some parts I thought it was overwritten. For a bird person, this is a 5 star book.

7 people found this helpful

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Interesting, but not quite what I was hoping for

I was really hoping this book would be better than it was. It wasn’t NOT interesting, but I guess I was hoping for something more like The Bird Way but specific to birds of prey. This book felt like a wandering mashup of earth history, travelogue, bird watchers diary, biography (specifically of William Henry Hudson among others), random stories and personal musings. While I’m happy to now know more about Caracaras than I did before, it sounds to me like “we” know too little about the species for this author to have made the claim that they are the most intelligent birds of prey on earth. I was really hoping to learn more about falcons, eagles, owls and other birds of prey in general, but I felt that was missing. I will say I really appreciated/enjoyed the author/narrator’s imitation of bird calls and thought they were amazingly realistic!

6 people found this helpful

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A MUST LISTEN!!

The most fantastic book I have ever read. I am going to listen again. It has changed my view of our world. Please listen read and absorb.

5 people found this helpful

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Oh I hated it to end

Loved the meaty, meaningful story. Important. Thank you for writing it. Opened my eyes to context of natural world.

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

Narration detracted from this otherwise excellent audio. Authors, unless they are voice actors as well, should NEVER read their work. As did this author, they usually do not do a good job, passable at best. This author singsonged his narration, put me to sleep.

This natural history story is engaging. What unique birds indeed.

The information included is interesting. What curious birds indeed.

3 people found this helpful

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fantastic read

This is a wonderful natural history of an amazing bird. My world is richer for knowing about it. it's also a very hopeful book.

3 people found this helpful

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A remarkable story

an excellent narration of a book full of excellent stories about a fascinating bird and really the natural history of our world.

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Wow this was wonderful

I love the intertwining of natural history, geology, and poetry that Meiburg has shared with us. I enjoyed his narration once I got into the rhythm of his writing; his love for his subject matter comes through and it was a joy to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-22

Captured my imagination

I've been lucky enough to see a Striated Caracara at a local bird of prey centre and I was mesmerized by it's inquisitive nature. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it would be impossible to choose which of the four parts was my favourite. I loved learning about the taxonomy of caracaras and their separation from other falcons was told in a way that captured my imagination of foreign lands in prehistoric times. The authors journey through South America was narrated in a way that allowed the reader to join the adventure.

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