If I had to guess the author's overarching intention in writing this book, I would say that it is to enlighten and educate you, the reader, about the great beauty and majesty of birds and in doing so, provide you with motivation to want to keep them around. If you love birds, you will not want to see any of them disappear, and the more people who are behind this cause, the better. A sentence from the Introduction embodies the gist of my supposition:

"Education is especially important, particularly among communities in the developing world where many of the world's most bird-rich - and threatened - habitats are found."

So how does the author go about providing the reader with this education on birds? That is the topic of this review.

The book is divided into eight parts:

(1) Introduction to Birds

(2) Where Birds Live

(3) Birds in Order

(4) How Birds Live

(5) Birds And People

(6) Birds Under Threat

(7) Protecting Birds

(8) Bird Table

Each of the various subtopics within each of these parts is always covered in just two pages. It is like Twitter - you've only got 140 characters, so make each one count - nothing extraneous.  This works very well in concisely conveying information to the reader.

As an example how this book works, I will use the three subtopics that comprise the information on the topic of bird migration. This information is found at the end of Part Four - How Birds Live and it is divided into three separate subtopics - Birds on the Move, Flyways, and Different Journeys.

Birds on the Move -  page 1

Birds on the Move - page 2
The first two page section - Birds on the Move - acts as an introduction to bird migration. It answers the important question of "why undertake this perilous journey?" in one sentence:

"Birds migrate because, quite simply, the risks of staying behind outweigh those of moving on."

This section also talks about "bird ringing" (called bird banding in the US) i.e. the answers to the questions: How did we come to learn about bird migration?; What is the methodology of data gathering?

Flyways - page 1

Flyways - page 2

The second two page unit is entitled Flyways. In the two images above, hopefully you can get a feel for the use of graphics and maps that the book uses to convey information. Knowledge of flyways is important because now people know that there are "migratory corridors" that need to be protected to insure the survival of birds - critical information, to be sure.

Different Journeys - page 1

Different Journeys - page 2
The third and final unit on the topic of bird migration is called Different Journeys. This section describes some of the variations in migration, e.g. "vertical migration" and irruptions. Once again graphics are well used to convey information.

So upon completion of these six pages - maybe 20 minutes of reading and study - you will be reasonably knowledgeable and conversant on the important topic of migration. You will know about flyways and their importance, and perhaps you will even marvel at some of the incredible journeys that birds make on an annual basis! This is the nature of the whole book - the concise delivery of education...

Before concluding, I would like to make mention of BirdLife International. It is an umbrella organization of conservation groups: 

"BirdLife International is the world's largest partnership of conservation organizations. It aims to maintain and, where possible improve the conservation status of all bird species..."

The first paragraph of the section on BirdLife International encapsulates the ethos of the book:

"Birds are very important to humankind. They are a key component of biodiversity, which is of incalculable value in terms of the ecological services it provides the planet. Birds also provide us with economic, cultural, and spiritual benefits. Our incentive to protect them and to tackle the threats they face, is therefore huge, and birds have an energetic and expanding global conservation community on their side."

In conclusion, let me say that The Atlas of Birds does a very, very nice job of concisely conveying information via graphs, maps, and photographic images that puts the beauty and allure of birds on full display. In this day and age of an overabundance of information, being concise is quite valuable. If you are someone who wants to know more, this book will quickly expand your knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of birds. Hopefully, this will make you want to join the large group of people on Planet Earth - the aforementioned "expanding global conservation community" - who want to save them.


Some other terrific books from Princeton University Press that may interest you:

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide...

This stunningly illustrated book from acclaimed birder and photographer Richard Crossley revolutionizes field guide design by providing the first real-life approach to identification. Whether you are a beginner, expert, or anywhere in between, The Crossley ID Guide will vastly improve your ability to identify birds. 

The Quotable Thoreau, the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Thoreau quotations ever assembled, gathers more than 2,000 memorable passages from this iconoclastic American author, social reformer, environmentalist, and self-reliant thinker. 

The Quotable Thoreau is thematically arranged, fully indexed, richly illustrated, and thoroughly documented. For the student of Thoreau, it will be invaluable. For those who think they know Thoreau, it will be a revelation. And for the reader seeking sheer pleasure, it will be a joy.

-Over 2,000 quotations on more than 150 subjects
-Richly illustrated with historic photographs and drawings
-Thoreau on himself and his contemporaries
-Thoreau's contemporaries on Thoreau
-Biographical time line

-Appendix of misquotations and misattributions
-Fully indexed
-Suggestions for further reading 

Kindle Edition


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