Current book reviews

The Sensory Ecology of Birds

The Sensory Ecology of Birds

Graham R. Martin
Oxford University Press, Oxford 2017
ISBN: 9780199694549

We often feel we need to take a "bird's eye view". But what exactly how does a bird's eye view the world anyway? We can never truly know, but Graham Martin does his best to help us understand not only how birds see the world, bur hear, touch and smell it too.

Where the animals go

Where The Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics

James Cheshire & Oliver Uberti
Particular Books, London 2016
ISBN: 9781846148811

From the very first page this book is an enthralling look at the world that technology can help us uncover. It is not just a look at where the animals go, but why they are going, how the animals get there, the problems they encounter and the stories of some of these individuals.

Birding in the Bristol Region

Birding in the Bristol Region: a Celebration: 50 Years of the Bristol Ornithological Club

William Earp (ed)
Bristol Ornithological Club, Bristol 2017
ISBN: 9781527205062
This short book has been produced to mark 50 years of the Bristol Ornithological Club.
Birds as Useful Indicators of High Nature Value Farmlands

Birds as Useful Indicators of High Nature Value Farmlands

Federico Morelli and Piotr Tryjanowski (editors)
Springer International Publishing, Cham 2017
ISBN: 9783319502823

The aim of this book was to provide a framework to use birds as indicators of High Nature Value (HNV) farmlands, and it includes five chapters on general aspects of HNV and three chapters which cover as many case-studies.

The first chapter provides an introduction to HNV farming, including ways to characterise it, and differences in agriculture between Western and Eastern Europe. This part of the book provides a useful overview to those completely unfamiliar with HNV farming, although it does not delve into much detail.

Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World

HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 2: Passerines

Josep Del Hoyo, Nigel J Collar, David A Christie, Andrew Elliott, Lincoln DC Fishpool, Peter Boesman and Guy M. Kirwan
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2016
ISBN: 9788496553989

This is the passerine volume of the new checklist produced by the team from Handbook of the Birds of the World.  It essentially follows exactly the same format and rules of the first volume and is a hugely impressive work.

The Egg

The Egg

Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York 2017
ISBN: 9783791372945
This is a beautifully illustrated celebration of eggs. Descriptions of the amazing sizes of the eggs of the Elephant Bird and hummingbirds, camouflage in shorebird eggs, the wonderfully diverse shapes and colours of insect eggs and many other topics are all accompanied by charming paintings. The text is minimal but informative and interesting.
Charles Darwin's life with birds

Charles Darwin's Life with Birds: His Complete Ornithology

Clifford B Frith
Oxford University Press 2016
ISBN: 9780190240233
There are numerous titles ending in ‘ist’ that could be used to describe Charles Darwin; as Clifford Frith notes, he was a ‘biologist, zoologist, entomologist, botanist, geologist, volcanologist, anthropologist, ethologist and more’. Whilst there have been many publications written about Charles Darwin that cover a good many of these topics and more besides, this book concentrates purely on Charles Darwin the ‘ornithologist’.
Uninvited Guest

The Cuckoo: the Uninvited Guest

Oldřich Mikulica, Tomáš Grim, Karl Schulze-Hage and Bård Gunnar Stokke
Wild Nature Press, Plymouth 2017
ISBN: 9780995567306

The familiar call of the male Cuckoo echoing across reed beds and moorland is widely recognised throughout Europe as a harbinger of spring; yet few have witnessed the intimate details of the life of this most elusive bird except those who dedicate their lives to observing and studying the behaviour of one of nature's most devious cheats.

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland

Paul Waring and Martin Townsend; Richard Lewington (illus.)
Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2017 (2017)
ISBN: 9781472930309

This is the third edition of a justly popular field guide to the macro-moths of the British Isles, which when first published in 2003 introduced illustrations of the moths in their natural resting positions, a major advance.

Bird Brain

Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence

Nathan Emery
Ivy Press, Lewes 2016
ISBN: 9781782403142

This is an extensive introductory review of the subject of intelligence in birds, with lots of pictures. It is neither an academic textbook or a coffee table potboiler, but pitched very much inbetween.

Multimedia Identification Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds

Multimedia Identification Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Albatrosses and Fulmarine Petrels

Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher, with illustrations by John Gale
Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia Identification Guides (in association with Scilly Pelagics) 2016
ISBN: 9780956886729

The back cover pretty much says it all – over 270 pages of detailed and original text. Over 200 colour photographs. Over 180 stunning and accurate illustrations. Large format colour range maps based on latest geolocator and observational studies. Two DVDs with over 120 minutes of highly informative footage with narration.

Identification of European Non-Passerines

Identification of European Non-Passerines

Jeff Baker
British Trust for Ornithology 2016
ISBN: 9781908581679

The original “Baker” (Identification Guide to European Non-Passerines) is now, as surprising as it may seem, 23 years old. Since its publication in 1993 a lot has changed – new knowledge has come to light, and a number of other publications have entered the ageing/sexing arena.

Beaks, Bones & Bird Songs

Beaks, Bones & Bird Songs: How the struggle for survival has shaped birds and their behaviour

Roger J. Lederer
Timber Press 2016
ISBN: 9781604696486

According to this engaging and informative book, back in 1703, a pamphlet was published stating that ‘birds fly to the moon for winter’ whilst in 1905, an essay proclaimed that in order to fly, ‘birds inhale deeply, making themselves lighter than air, and fly off’. Our knowledge of avian science and behaviour has come a long way since then (although there is still much to learn) and this book leads the reader through a lot of that information in an easy to read and easy to digest manner.

Birds of Holy Island

The Birds of Holy Island and Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve

Ian Kerr
NatureGuides 2016 (2016)
ISBN: 9780954488246

From the first lines of the introduction, and a sketch of a White-tailed Eagle, it is obvious that The Birds of Holy Island and Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a quality book for any enthusiastic birdwatcher. In this edition Ian Kerr has also given us an insight into the history, both natural and cultural, of this enigmatic corner of Northumberland.

Raptors in Focus

Raptors in Focus

Dick Forsman
Reed New Holland, London 2016
ISBN: 9781921517686

A foray into the literature dealing with identification of European raptors will inevitably lead to one or more of Dick Forsman’s books. These are currently among the very best of the books that aim to help readers to resolve the questions and conundrums that often attend this topic.