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.

Birds of Lincolnshire (cover)

Birds of Lincolnshire

Colin Casey, John Clarkson, Phil Espin & Phil Hyde
Lincolnshire Bird Club 2021
ISBN: 9780953825721

The last comprehensive review of Lincolnshire’s birds was completed more than three decades ago, so this book will undoubtably serve as a timely and eagerly awaited update. Produced on behalf of Lincolnshire Bird Club, this book aims to document the status of every bird species that has occurred in the county and report on the changes concerning their population and distribution since the last publication.

Birdpedia (cover)

Birdpedia: A Brief Compendium of Avian Lore

Christopher W. Leahy
Princeton University Press, Princeton 2021
ISBN: 9780691209661

Birdpedia is an eclectic and entertaining read. It follows an A–Z format, taking the reader from ‘Abundance’ to ‘Zugenruhe’. Along the way, we learn about everything from ornithological pioneers and poetry, to bird evolution, physiology, taxonomy, behaviour, the many threats that have faced birds in the past and those they continue to face today.

The Gull Next Door (cover)

The Gull Next Door: A Portrait of a Misunderstood Bird

Marianne Taylor
Princeton University Press, Princeton 2020 (2020)
ISBN: 9780691208961

Early on in The Gull Next Door, author Marianne Taylor declares that she is “not a true, hardcore larophile”. Don’t be deceived though – she clearly knows her stuff about gulls, and her deep affection for these birds is apparent throughout this entertaining and expansive book. The Gull Next Door uses the author’s own experiences as jumping off points to cover everything from gull evolution and physiology to the biodiversity crisis. We begin in Hastings, with the author rescuing rooftop-nesting Herring Gulls in her childhood home.

Goshawk Summer (cover)

Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other

James Aldred
Elliot & Thompson, London 2021
ISBN: 9781783966127

Award-winning documentary film-maker James Aldred spent the spring and summer of 2020 filming Goshawks in the New Forest, his childhood home. This book, presented in an extended diary form, catalogues the author’s time with the Goshawks and many of the Forest’s other inhabitants. The text is punchy, with short, sometimes staccato sentences and delivers a very personal take on these magnificent birds, and much else besides.

Seabirds: The New Identification Guide (cover)

Seabirds: The New Identification Guide

Peter Harrison, Martin Perrow & Hans Larsson
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2021
ISBN: 9788416728411

For many, seabirds are a bit of a mystery in that they occupy a world that for most is largely inaccessible. However, during the last couple of decades pelagic tours, both daily and for longer periods, have grown in popularity and have brought some of the world’s seabirds within reach, so a new identification guide to this amazing group of birds couldn’t have come at a better time.

Bird: Exploring the Winged World (cover)

Bird: Exploring the Winged World

Phaidon Editors, Jen Lobo & Katrina van Grouw (Editors)
Phaidon Press, London 2021
ISBN: 9781838661403

This is the perfect coffee table book for when it’s so cold and wet that you’ve decided to postpone your birdwatching session: this rich visual survey of artworks will cure your ‘fomo’ on birds and museums.

The Birds of Wales (cover)

The Birds of Wales/Adar Cymru

Rhion Pritchard, Julian Hughes, Ian M. Spence, Bob Haycock, Anne Brenchley
Liverpool University Press 2021
ISBN: 9781800859722

This impressive tome from the Welsh Ornithological Society is the third full avifauna for Wales, following 1994’s original Birds in Wales (Lovegrove, Williams & Williams) and a subsequent update volume, Birds in Wales 1992-2000 (Green). The new volume is the first to include data from the 21st century, during which rapid changes in the population status and distributions of many species have occurred, making it a particularly valuable addition to the ornithological literature.

Beak, Tooth & Claw: Living with Predators in Britain (cover)

Beak, Tooth & Claw: Living with Predators in Britain

Mary Colwell
William Collins, London 2021
ISBN: 9780008354763

If you firmly believe that no fox should ever be shot or equally firmly believe that foxes should always be controlled then you may think that this is not a book for you. This is a book full of nuance. Mary Colwell explores predation by talking to people who are actively involved in land management and conservation. She encourages the reader to learn from people trying to face complex conservation challenges which don’t have simple solutions.