I wish I could review every bird book that I get. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like it will happen. Here are some recent books that I haven’t gotten to yet. I may eventually post a full review for some of these, but I wanted to go ahead and give some brief thoughts on them. And if there’s one or more of these that you’d like to know more about, please let me know by leaving a comment.
by Marianne Taylor
The first half of this book covers owls in general – their biology, behavior, conservation, etc. The second part consists of species accounts for all the owls of the U.S., Canada, and Eurasia. This type of book has been done several times before (see Owls of North America for example). But if you don’t already have anything similar, this would be a good general owl book to get due to the especially exceptional photography.
The Mating Lives of Birds
by James Parry
This book covers everything from courtship through fledging young. That includes an awful lot of a bird’s life, including singing, courtship displays, building nests, eggs, and nestlings. Filled with some very nice photos, this makes a good introduction to these subjects.
Cuckoos of the World
by Johannes Erritzøe, Clive F. Mann, Frederik Brammer, and Richard A. Fuller
I can only hope that the format used here (and in Cotingas and Manakins before it) becomes the norm for family identification guides. The basic plan, with plates in the front separated from the species accounts is pretty common. But the accounts here also include a decent selection of photographs. When you factor in the very attractive artwork, nice maps, and overall eye-catching design it all adds up to a very nice family guide. Honestly, living in a relatively cuckoo-deprived area, I’ve never given these birds much thought. But just looking through this guide has convinced me I need to change that.
The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation
by Mike Unwin
Given the title, I’m sure you won’t be surprised that this book contains lots of maps! They’re used to give an overview of where birds live, the different orders of birds, how birds live, birds and people, threats, and conservation. Topics are covered very briefly, usually in a two page spread. But it’s got some fantastic illustrations – both the maps and many bird photographs. I think this makes an excellent introduction to many topics concerning birds.
Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans
by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
The authors take a close look at crows and jays, widely acknowledged as the most intelligent birds. They include some amazing stories and anecdotes, but go beyond that to explaining how and why these birds engage in the behavior that they do. The scientific explanations can get a little on the heavy side (this is neurobiology, after all!), but overall everything is explained very clearly. I’d recommend this book to birders interested in learning more about the amazing things birds are capable of doing.
Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community
by David F. Whitacre
This is not an identification guide, but rather is intended to gather together a summary of all that is known about the lives of the neotropical raptors of the Mayan forest community. As such, you can think of these accounts as similar to those of the Birds of North America project. There are some nice color photographs, but they aren’t the main draw. This book will be of much use to ornithologists studying these birds, but not nearly as much to birders. So I wouldn’t recommend a purchase unless you have a great affinity for the raptors of this region.
Posted by Grant McCreary on April 16th, 2013.