Atlas of Rare Birds - Book Review

"This book tells the story of 50 of the rarest birds in the world". So opens Atlas of Rare Birds By Dominic Couzens. The book is divided up into ten sections, with five chosen birds in each section. These sections (with an example bird) are:
  1. Back From The Brink (Kakapo)
  2. The Perils of Island Living (Ultramarine Lorikeet)
  3. Threats in Many Guises (Tristan Albatross)
  4. Migrants (Aquatic Warbler)
  5. Unexpected Calamities (White-rumped Vulture)
  6. Lost Causes? (Spoon-billed Sandpiper)
  7. Controversies (Spotted Owl)
  8. Discoveries (Algerian Nuthatch)
  9. Rediscoveries (Noisy Scrub-bird)
  10. The Pending Tray (Long-whiskered Owlet)  

I very much like this structure - it adds merit to the book by adding depth to the subject. For example, the section "Unexpected Calamities" tlaks about the precipitous decline of the once abundant (i.e. population in the millions) White-rumped Vulture. Eventually it was traced to a drug used to treat injured cattle that the birds were ingesting. This creates a "lessons learned" aspect to the book. I also like the details provided in the stories e.g. the Kakapo is probably one of the longest living birds in the world with an average life-expectancy of 90 years.

Here are some photos of the book from the four pages long Kakapo section - I find this flightless bird and its story to be most interesting!


Entertaining Offbeat Information On The Natural World - The Books of David Quammen

"David Quammen, a highly regarded popular-science writer and novelist, brings a range of qualities to his work as an interpreter of nature: a journalist's talent for finding a good story and telling it well, a scholar's conviction that facts matter, and an amateur naturalist's passion for learning about the way things work." -


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