Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: The World's Rarest Birds

A few days ago I received a review copy of The World's Rarest Birds from Princeton University Press. This is a beautiful book with so much detail and interesting information, you can stay absorbed for hours. At the same time, it is so heartbreaking that most if not all of the critically endangered species discussed will be gone by the time my 17-month-old granddaughter graduates high school.

This large book is an effort to raise awareness of bird conservation issues worldwide. In 2010 two of the authors established an international photography competition to compile a complete photographic directory of every Critically Endangered and Endangered bird in the world. The contest was repeated the following year to try to get photos of some of the birds not photographed the previous year. This book showcases the winning photographs from both competitions as well as 800 others and 76 illustrations of birds which are not known to have been photographed and may already be extinct. As you can imagine, the photographs in the book are absolutely stunning.

Introductory chapters highlight threats the birds face and include a variety of maps and tables with information about the last documented sighting of the species that are possibly extinct or possibly extinct in the wild. Following are region-by-region discussions of conservation, threats and species at risk. Each species has a photo or illustration with information on the population numbers, threats, distribution, habitat, and behavior. Each account also has a QR code, which will take the reader to the species account on the BirdLife International website, with the most current, more complete information on that species.

The book is intended to educate and mobilize birders, naturalists and the general public to take action to save threatened birds and to raise awareness for the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

The World's Rarest Birds is $45 and worth every penny. The 360 pages contain 377 illustrations, 977 color photos and 610 color maps.

Good Birding!

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