Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: The Atlas of Birds

I have been reading The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior and Conservation, by Mike Unwin and published by Princeton University Press. Another "must have" bird book.

I admit, the book was not exactly what I expected when I ordered it--it's better. A compendium of interesting and useful information about birds throughout the world, with an emphasis on their conservation. Yes, there is lots of information about where the birds are--and in the illustrations it is easy to see why the rain forests of South America are so vital. You can also see at a glance those countries that have birds found no where else and see the areas identified as Important Bird Areas for conservation purposes.

The book also has information about the various bird families--what makes them unique. Especially interesting to me are the small vignettes of various species. Just two of the interesting facts in this book:

  • A Ruppell's vulture was recorded over West Africa at a height of 7 miles, which makes it the high-altitude record holder for birds

  • Swifts are almost entirely aerial, feeding, mating and even sleeping on the wing. A newly fledged swift will not reach breeding maturity for 3 years and may spend all of that time exclusively on wing.

In addition to a lot of interesting and useful facts and dozens of maps, the book is full of eye-catching photos.

This book is a winner for any birdwatching enthusiast. The price (softcover) is $22.95, although I did see you can get it from Amazon for $15.35.

Good birding!

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