The Last of Its Kind: The Search for the Great Auk and the Discovery of Extinction

In this readable study, Gísli Pálsson recounts how, in the spring of 1858, two Victorian ornithologists—John Wolley and Alfred Newton—engaged in a frustrating and fruitless effort to find living great auks in Iceland. Before returning to England, the pair “became anthropologists” (91) and spent several weeks interviewing people familiar with the birds, especially fishermen who, in 1844, captured and killed two auks... Read More

Elusive Birds of the Tropical Forest Understory

Elusive Birds of the Tropical Forest Understory (Comstock Publishing Associates) makes a fine effort to introduce us to an underappreciated and relatively little-known cohort of birds.  Its attractive coffee table book format houses a compendium of portraiture sets for 41 bird species that reside in the lower to mid- strata of New World tropical forests.  Accompanying each of these sets is an accessibly-written essay by one of several contemporary, expert tropical avian ecologists. Read More

Aboriginal Peoples and Birds in Australia

This is a very welcome publication.  Anthropologist Philip Clarke has produced a wide-ranging survey of the historical and cultural relationships between Australia’s aboriginal peoples and its distinctive avifauna.  These relationships are both deep and complex.  When the first European settlers encountered this vast continent they were entering a world whose indigenous inhabitants had over thousands of years evolved a most detailed and intimate knowledge of their natural surroundings and its wildlife. Read More

Birds of Belize

I received the book from the publisher thanks to a request from AFO, who kindly asked me if I would be interested in reviewing this new book. The first pleasant surprise was the size of the book, which was very practical. The idea of having the groups of species presented on the folded front inside cover to get a quick idea of what we’re looking at seems to be very useful and well thought out. Although it may seem that there are few species in Belize, with this double-page spread of quick groups presentation... Read More

What an Owl Knows: The Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds

Jennifer Ackerman is well known for her previous books such as The Bird Way and The Genius of Birds, where she dives into the avian brain and explores the so different but brilliant mind of birds. In this book, she takes her passion for birds and science and explores the world of owls. Humans have a very special bond with owls, and they seem to be the most revered, beloved, but also feared birds in the world and our fascination with them goes back thousands of years. Read More

The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird

As someone who works in the realm of Bald Eagle conservation, I found Jack Davis's book, "The Bald Eagle," to be an inspiring reminder of the tremendous efforts made to save this iconic symbol of America from the brink of extinction. The author engages readers with a wealth of information on the Bald Eagle's biology, behavior, and ecology. From their nesting habits to their hunting prowess, Davis paints a vivid picture of these incredible birds, fostering a deep appreciation for their place in the natural world. Read More

Birds of the Mesozoic: An Illustrated Field Guide

Birds fascinate people. A quick journey through human history reveals ample evidence of how birds have captured our imagination since the dawn of history and across cultures, from illustrations of birds in paleolithic cave art, to the in ancient Egyptian god Horus depicted as an eagle, to carved thunderbirds crowning totems in many North American indigenous cultures. oday, fascination in birds takes another form: birders – folks who engage in birdwatching as a recreational activity. In a report issued by... Read More

Audubon at Sea: The Coastal and Transatlantic Adventures of John James Audubon

Christopher Irmscher (a noted Audubon Scholar) and Richard J. King ( an accomplished writer about marine literature) provide an excellent review of John James Audubon’s waterbird adventures at a time of renewed interest in Audubon’s place in ornithology history and recent controversy about his life as a slave owner during this time of racial awakening. Read More

Birds of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a hotspot of avian diversity, and not surprisingly both ecotourists and scientists flock to this small Central American country to observe and study its birds. This new field guide to the birds of Costa Rica will doubtless become the standard reference for the country, and offers a more streamlined and navigable product than the previous Birds of Central America (2018), also illustrated by Dale Dyer. The authors have extensive experience developing field guides and it shows... Read More

The (Big) Year That Flew By: Twelve Months, Six Continents, and the Ultimate Birding Record

It’s a given that birders like to keep lists. We all, to a greater or lesser extent, do it. Whether it’s a world list, a state or county list, a house or garden list, a self-found list, or even the more esoteric stuff like a commuting-to-work list – we seem to gravitate towards them, for better or worse. At their best, lists form part of an ongoing data gathering exercise that feeds information to a local or national body... Read More