Birds and Us (cover)

Birds and Us: A 12,000 Year History, from Cave Art to Conservation

Tim Birkhead
Viking Books, London 2022
ISBN: 9780241460498

The scope of Birds and Us is impressive, beginning 8,000 years ago with Neolithic cave art and ending on a 2018 undergraduate trip to Bempton Cliffs. As BTO Vice-president Prof Tim Birkhead takes us through the millennia in between, he weaves together art, religion and science with rich historical detail, mini-biographies and personal anecdotes. The book is written clearly and directly, and the result is a highly engaging journey which will appeal to anyone interested in the relationship between human society and birds.

Galapagos Crusoes (cover)

Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone with the Birds

Bryan Nelson and June Nelson
Bradt Travel Guides, Chalfont St Peter 2022
ISBN: 9781784778859

Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone with the Birds is an update to Bryan Nelson’s original 1968 book Galapagos: Islands of Birds, with additional stories from June, his wife. The two of them spent a year on two islands in Galapagos – Tower and Hood (known as Genovesa and Española today) - studying seabirds. As such, the book is a great introduction to the different species found on the Islands with in-depth chapters on the various mammals, reptiles, insects and birds that the Nelsons shared their islands with.

Man and Bird in the Paleolithic of Western Europe (cover)

Man and Bird in the Palaeolithic of Western Europe

Anne Eastham
Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2021
ISBN: 9781789699098

This book attempts to straddle the two disciplines of ornithology and archaeology, by fusing the author’s stated passion for birds with their obvious deep knowledge of early hunter-gatherer communities in Europe. With 134 pages of text out of 149 altogether, do not be fooled into thinking this will be a light or easy read; it is a dense academic piece.

The Secret Perfume of Birds (cover)

The Secret Perfume of Birds: Uncovering the Science of Avian Scent

Danielle J. Whittaker
John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2022 (2022)
ISBN: 9781421443478

If you have ever visited a seabird colony, you will most likely have found that they are remarkable places for their ability to stimulate, or even assault, the senses. Visually, the sight of thousands of birds whirling in the air and thronging on the cliffs is always a treat, and the sounds that go with that can be a raucous, deafening orchestra. But often, the memory of seabird colonies that lingers is the smell. It’s a heady mix of guano, fish and death, but with a little something else that escapes description. The best I can do is that they smell ‘birdy’.

The Extraordinary World of Birds (cover)

The Extraordinary World of Birds

David Lindo & Claire McElfatrick (illustrator)
Dorling Kindersley, London 2022
ISBN: 9780241529058

An expertly written and beautifully illustrated book, that does as the title suggests - convince children that the bird world is in fact extraordinary.

Covering all aspects of birds’ lives, the author takes the reader on a journey of discovery, from teaching children about the ancestry of birds and their behaviours, to offering ways they can help protect them such as setting up feeders and making a bird-friendly garden.  

Europe's Birds (cover)

Europe’s Birds: An Identification Guide

Rob Hume, Robert Still, Andy Swash & Hugh Harrop
WILDGuides, Princeton 2021
ISBN: 9780691177656

This newly published guide covers an impressive range of over 900 species and it is laid out in a very user-friendly way. It’s a hefty tome- it’s not a field guide but neither is it intended to be.

How Birds Live Together (cover)

How Birds Live Together: Colonies and Communities in the Avian World

Marianne Taylor
Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford 2022
ISBN: 9780691231907

How Birds Live Together offers an overarching view of the different and unexpected ways that birds nest and interact together. Many differing nesting habits are covered, from seabird cliff colonies to burrow nesters, to predator and prey nesting together and even non-social nesters, with discussions on the challenges, benefits, hazards, and social dynamics of each style of living, and features a wealth of species as examples.

The Secret Life of Birds (cover)

The Secret Life of Birds

Moira Butterfield & Vivian Mineker
Happy Yak, London 2022
ISBN: 9780711266209

The Secret Life of Birds is a collection of delightful stories and engaging facts, which imparts a love of birds and of nature on the next generation, inspiring them to look after the world around them. Readers are invited to follow the book's guide, Speedy the Swift, as they fly through the pages, introducing us to their bird friends who teach the reader about such things as anatomy, the science of feathers and moulting, diet and migration.

Feathers (cover)

Feathers: An Identification Guide to the Feathers of Western European Birds

Cloé Fraigneau
Helm, London 2021
ISBN: 9781472971722

The pattern and colouration of feathers provide valuable and often memorable clues to bird identification. Taken in isolation, however, feathers can be surprisingly hard to identify, particularly for those who do not have experience of birds in the hand. If you have even the slightest inclination to identify the feathers that you come across, this reference guide is a revelation  – not to mention a thing of great beauty!

A Newsworthy Naturalist: The Life of William Yarrell (cover)

A Newsworthy Naturalist: the Life of William Yarrell

Christine E. Jackson
John Beaufoy Publishing, Oxford 2022
ISBN: 9781913679040

Yarrell’s is a name that you have probably come across, if only through its association with the British race of White Wagtail – which we know as Pied Wagtail or Motacilla alba yarrellii. He is, however, a somewhat distant figure now, whose significant contributions to the study of birds (and fish) have largely been forgotten. Yarrell’s A History of British Fishes and A History of British Birds, published in the 1830s and 1840s respectively, were the main reference works on these subjects for the remainder of the century.

The Role of Birds in World War Two (cover)

The Role of Birds in World War Two: How Ornithology Helped to Win the War

Nicholas Milton
Pen & Sword History, Barnsley 2022
ISBN: 9781526794147

Stories such as War Horse have brought the history of animals in warfare into the public consciousness. Their significant contribution was formally recognised in 1943 through the creation of the PDSA Dickin Medal awarded for gallantry and devotion to duty, and the important role played by birds in World War Two is clear from the fact that pigeons are the most numerous recipients.

Short-eared Owls (cover)

Short-eared Owls

Bryan Benn
Self-published 2021
ISBN: 9781838480004

This book is a remarkable achievement. It describes one man’s study of Short-eared Owls over 10 years across different parts of Britain. While the main strengths of the book are those personal observations supported by a collection of stunning photographs (again the work of one man), Bryan Benn has put these into context in a series of carefully thought out chapters. Subjects covered include appearance, habitats, behaviour (including breeding, hunting and social), movements, voice and conservation.

The Wryneck (cover)

The Wryneck: Biology, Behaviour, Conservation and Symbolism of Jynx torquilla

Gerard Gorman
Pelagic Publishing, Exeter 2022
ISBN: 9781784272883

The Wryneck is one of our weirdest birds and it is hard to believe it really is a woodpecker. Gerard Gorman is a global authority on woodpeckers and combines the extensive literature with his knowledge of this species in this beautifully written and produced monograph. It is a worthy addition to his six previous books on the Picidae and the latest in the excellent Pelagic Monographs series.

Vagrancy in Birds (cover)

Vagrancy in Birds

Alexander Lees & James Gilroy
Helm 2021
ISBN: 9781472964786

Avian vagrancy is a phenomenon that has fascinated natural historians for centuries. From Victorian collectors willing to spend fortunes on a rare specimen, to today’s high-octane bird-chasing ‘twitchers’, the enigma of vagrancy has become a source of obsession for countless birders worldwide.

Naturalized Parrots of the World (cover)

Naturalized Parrots of the World

Stephen Pruett-Jones (Ed.)
Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford 2021
ISBN: 9780691204413

Parrots are among the most endangered birds globally, their populations threatened by habitat loss, trapping for the pet trade (both legal and illegal), and shooting, the latter predominantly centred on real or perceived threats to agriculture. Trapping for the pet trade has, ironically, both contributed to population declines within native ranges and seen parrots introduced to other geographical regions and habitats.