The Book of Eggs, a hard-cover tome of c. 650 pages is exactly what it professes to be – a celebration of the diversity of bird eggs based on the collections housed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in California.
Following brief chapters on such aspects as egg physiology, the adaptive value of size, shape and patterning, nests, breeding strategies and nest parasitism, there is a one page account per species with a close-up view of the egg, an actual size photograph, some basic facts and a short description of the most interesting aspects of the species’ ecology. This is neither a guide nor a reference and has a distinctly North American bias, although not completely so. It is not clear how the 600 species (of 1600 in the collections) were selected and there are, for example, no photos of the amazingly patterned eggs of some Old World shrikes. Slight quibbles include the missed opportunity to present photographs showing the intraspecific variance in eggs and the lack of contrast in some range maps.
Also, use of the Clements Checklist means searching for many European species under ‘Common’ or ‘Eurasian’. Nevertheless, the overall look is uncluttered and attractive with the focus very much on the photographs of eggs.