Wilson’s Ornithology and Burds in Scots


Hamish MacDonald and Alexander Wilson

Category: Poetry
: 978-1-910895-399
Format: Paperback
Pages: 100
Price: £9.99
Release date: March 2020

‘The crossbill is a bonny bird

An she sings wi a guid Scots tongue


A’ll gie ye gip

Gin ye meddle wi me nor ma young’

As a result of his travels across the North American continent in the eighteenth century Alexander Wilson pioneered the science of ornithological writing and illustration, becoming an inspiration for most of the ornithological works which followed.

This new book celebrates the artwork of Alexander Wilson by reproducing his illustrations alongside new poems in Scots by Hamish MacDonald, looking at the habits, habitats, and characteristics of birds.


About the Author

ALEXANDER WILSON, a Radical Paisley weaver turned packman, travelled thousands of miles by foot across the American continent illustrating and writing about its bird life. Wilson is the founding father of ‘American Ornithology’, while his illustrations and writing comprise an outstanding body of work. American Ornithology was published in nine volumes between 1808 and 1814.

HAMISH MACDONALD was the first skriver at the Scottish National Library in Edinburgh and the poems reflect his own lifelong love of birds. Scots is the medium throughout. As Alexander Wilson was not only a self-taught ornithologist, but also at one time a minor Scots poet and an orator who delivered his speeches in Scots verse, this makes Scots an apposite medium with which to explore these beautiful drawings.